Earlier in October, with only a month left until the American presidential election, a relatively unknown third-party candidate achieved a milestone: polls in Utah began showing Evan McMullin at a statistical tie with the major-party candidates.
The statistical analysis site FiveThirtyEight explained how it was technically possible, although extremely unlikely, that McMullin could take enough electoral votes to prevent either major candidate from reaching the required 270 votes, which would send the decision to the House of Representatives, where McMullin is reportedly well-liked and well-known. With Donald Trump’s continued decline in the polls and the general ambivalence voters have towards Hillary Clinton, McMullin could then be elected president.
Since the release of those positive polls, McMullin’s popularity has only increased, especially among Mormons and evangelicals. I am one of those evangelicals. The appeal of McMullin and his running mate, Mindy Finn, is that they offer a hopeful conservative vision for America, one that is not based on the fear-mongering, conspiracy theories, and racism of Trump and one that aligns much more closely with my own Christian convictions. Faced with a strongly pro-choice candidate in Hillary Clinton and an arrogantly immoral candidate in Donald Trump, many white evangelicals have abandoned their historic commitment to demanding high character in public officials and embraced Trump. But some of us have come to the conclusion that when a candidate is unfit for office, they are unfit, no matter how unfit their opponent is.
Some of us have come to the conclusion that when a candidate is unfit for office, they are unfit, no matter how unfit their opponent is.
McMullin supports a robust pro-life platform of appointing Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade, reducing the number of abortions by reducing unwanted pregnancies, and providing more support for mothers. As a Mormon, he understands the importance of preserving religious freedom. Where the GOP, led by Trump, seems to be abandoning minorities in favor of stirring up white resentment, McMullin has called for criminal justice reform and earning the votes of minorities. While Trump demonizes Muslims and belittles their efforts to combat extremism, McMullin rightly sees the Muslim community as invaluable to our national security.
On almost every major policy, Trump and McMullin diverge in some way, but there is even more divergence in their character and rhetoric. Whereas Trump unapologetically lies, mocks, and abuses others, McMullin is gracious and honest. He represents a new movement among younger conservatives towards diversity, principled pluralism, and virtues. Since I cannot in good conscience support Trump or Clinton, endorsing Evan McMullin has been an easy decision, despite his lack of experience in office. (His background includes time as a CIA operative and the House GOP’s Chief Policy Director.)
The only problem is that McMullin is not on the ballot in most states, and even with a write-in campaign, the likelihood of him tying up enough electoral votes to prevent either candidate from winning seems vanishingly small. Why bother voting for a candidate who almost certainly cannot win? Because the major-party candidates support policies and ideals that contradict Christ’s command to love your neighbor, because a vote for Trump is a vote for Trumpism in the future, because McMullin’s values and ideals are good and worthy of support, and because there still is that faint hope that he can get elected. In my estimation, that faint hope is still more likely than Trump winning and being a good president.