What Evan McMullin's Candidacy Says About The Dire Direction Of The Republican Party
I almost felt bad for Evan McMullin, the newly christened Great Conservative Hope™ of the 2016 election, because he sort of seemed like a nice guy. On Monday, McMullin declared his presidential candidacy as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump. I found I had a surprising amount of affection for McMullin. True, he was a both CIA operative and a Goldman Sachs employee (not at the same time), but he also worked to educate American legislators about the genocidal atrocities in Syria.
This positivity, of course, was before his campaign website added its “Issues” section. Despite having the inarguable virtue of not being Trump, McMullin is still an anti-choice, pro-gun, Obamacare-hating Republican — even though he's not running for president as a Republican.
He also doesn’t stand much of a chance, seeing as how the majority of state deadlines to get on the ballot have already passed. He’s being backed by Better for America, a Super PAC dedicated to pushing an alternative candidate. Unfortunately, as Politico's Jake Sherman tweeted, senior GOP aides describe McMullin as "a nice guy, but not a player in leadership in any way."
However, McMullin's candidacy does tell us something crucial about the state of the political right wing in the United States: Namely, it has no idea what it’s doing.
By "right wing," I’m referring to anyone who fell under the umbrella of the Republican Party during, let’s say, the 2012 election ― the nearly 61 million people who voted for Mitt Romney. This group — which can agree on so many things, including restricting abortion choice, relaxing restrictions on guns, and hating Obamacare — can’t seem to get it together on what to do about Donald.
The options available to them after Trump’s official nomination were few. 1) They could grit their teeth and support the nominee, as many are doing. 2) They could choose not to support the nominee, and hope that there’s no significant political blowback, as a growing number are doing (hello, Susan Collins and Richard Hanna). 3) They could try to replace the nominee with some mythical conservative elder, someone who would rescue them from their electoral doom. Many had been hoping for someone like Romney or Michael Bloomberg to take on this mantle, but instead we have McMullin.
The problem is that they’re divided on which way to move forward. If they chose to steer hard toward Trump or someone else (McMullin, say), they might have a chance of success. Instead, they’re arguing over the steering wheel, and are headed straight toward a lamppost.
The left hasn’t been without fractures this cycle. In fact, that's an understatement, considering the walkout and protests from Bernie Sanders delegates which plagued the Democratic National Convention last month. However, in comparison, Democratic voters have seemed to coalesce around steering away from Trump, to Hillary Clinton’s benefit.
McMullin’s entry onto the scene reminds of us only one thing: A house divided cannot stand