Are Evan McMullin’s concerns about President Donald Trump worth an ear, or rather symptoms of his self-interested political ambitions? Recently, Evan McMullin, an independent candidate during the last presidential election, expressed concerns during a speech at Brigham Young University (BYU) that the FBI’s investigation into the connections between the campaign of President Trump and Russia was a “big deal” hinting that he knows more secrets that are yet to surface. Can Evan McMullin’s claims be trusted? Or, is he simply seeking to keep relevant after his failed campaign?
Utah, a predominately conservative state, has not voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon B. Johnson against Barry Goldwater in 1964. Yet in November, President Trump won the state with only 45.54% of the votes. A significant reason, the rise of the Evan McMullin campaign. In the November election, Evan McMullin came in third notably managing to garner over 21% of the votes.
Who Is Evan McMullin?
Evan McMullin is a BYU graduate and former CIA operations officer. McMullin ran on a platform seeking to be an alternative to both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. His campaign appealed to the large Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (aka, Mormon) membership which comprises approximately 62% of the state’s population.
While LDS Church members tend to vote Republican, many found dissonance between a vote for Trump’s often favorable conservative views and his morally repugnant marital infidelities. Evidence of Utahan’s dissatisfaction with Trump showed as early as the Utah Republican caucus in March 2016 when Donald Trump came in third behind both Ted Cruz (with more than 69% of the votes) and John Kasich. While Hillary Clinton’s Democratic Party policies were not generally favored in the conservative state (nor was she an example of personal ethics), some believed it might be better to vote for her than a man with a noticeable philandering past.
Evan McMullin the Alternative Choice
In an election with these moral contradictions, Evan McMullin appeared on the stage and offered a third choice. Do not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton; vote for neither. A vote for McMullin is a way out.
Some Trump supporters reasoned that votes for McMullin were wasted choices because he wasn’t likely to win the national election. An offered counter scenario involved use of the 12th amendment. Simply, the idea was suggested that if McMullin could sneak a win in Utah and perhaps a few other states, none of the candidates would earn the 270 electoral votes needed to win the Presidency. The election would be decided among the candidates that earned electoral votes, causing the House of Representatives to make the choice. Plausibly Evan McMullin could steal the election from both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton by being the alternative choice. A substitute away from the highly negative Trump and Clinton options.
An ultimate reason offered by many in the LDS community – vote for the most acceptable candidate and ask God to help out. This reason was inflated by a quote (that has never been confirmed) assigned to a former leader of the LDS Church that says voting for the lesser of two evils rather than the best candidate is not the best decision, even if the candidate has no chance of winning.
Donald Trump Fears
While I am a solid conservative and wanted a Republican in the White House, I was upset at Donald Trump and how his non-traditional campaign interacted with Texas Senator Ted Cruz. For example, Donald Trump made mean comments about Senator Cruz’s wife Heidi’s appearance, as well, wild claims that Cruz’s father was part of the assassination of President Kennedy. While I was amused at Donald Trump’s innovative and confident campaign, he didn’t offer much to support his claims he would stand up for what he campaigned for. Critics like Glenn Beck magnified fears over a Trump presidency and gave Evan McMullin ample airtime.
Near the end of August, I realized that Donald Trump was going to perform much better than the polls claimed. Many supporters were hesitant to admit they favored him. I knew that his election was a strong possibility. At the same time, the likelihood of an Evan McMullin alternative outcome was increasingly far-fetched. Rather than imagine a remote, less than 270 electoral votes outcome for an unknown Evan McMullin, I joined the reality of a likely Trump presidency.
Evan McMullin is Unknown
Unknown is the best way to describe Evan McMullin. Formerly involved in the CIA, little is known about him. He appeals to many in Utah and Idaho because of his BYU alumni status and membership in the LDS Church. Yet this sort of reasoning can be detrimental. I graduated from BYU. As a graduate, I can testify that even though BYU is the most conservative university, I’ve known many BYU liberals. Similarly, just because someone graduates from BYU, doesn’t mean they are politically on the best path.
So last week’s article in the Deseret News reporting that Evan McMullin was invited to speak on campus at BYU isn’t surprising to me. During his speech, he claimed to know more than what’s reported about President Trump’s campaign and Russia. He warned President Trump is a danger to our country. The Republican Party is advised to not become the party of Trump. Yet, no additional details were offered to support his assertions. However, he did admit he plans to seek political office in the near future.
I’m unexcited about Evan McMullin’s comments. I write this post fearing many in Utah, and especially in the Mormon community, are fooled by a man we know very little. Sure, former presidential candidate (and BYU alumni) Mitt Romney might have favored an Evan McMullin option during the last election, but even he was soon seeking President-elect Trump’s consideration for membership in his cabinet as Secretary of State.
Sustain President Trump Rather Than Undermine Him
President Trump has not disappointed me since his election. Actually, I’m quite pleased with his presidential efforts. He is striving to keep his campaign promises. His presidency isn’t perfect, but which other President has taken on as much hostility from Democrats and the liberal main stream media?
He is not a career politician. He is a businessman whose skills and experiences are vital in the deep economic hole left by our former commander-in-chief. His aggressiveness towards our enemies comes in complete contrast to Obama’s apology tour.
As far as there being a Russian connection – I’m not presently concerned. How are any of these claims affecting what he is trying to achieve as President? If Evan McMullin is correct and President Trump shouldn’t be trusted because of Russian connections, then I’m sure the liberal media and Democratic Party will collude to find the details. As for me, I believe greater good would come to our country if we did more as a populace to sustain our Executive leader than to continually seek fault with him.
So far, evidence disfavors McMullin claims. Conversely, President Trump does more each day to favorably squelch such critics. It all goes back to what is known versus unknown. We know President Trump is seeking to achieve favorable policies and changes on our country’s behalf. Meanwhile, little is known about any of the claims against him.