It’s no secret that the Donald Trump candidacy has been a total disaster for the Republican establishment. Trump has defied party ideology, divided its constituency, revealed a great deal of ugliness lying under the party’s surface, and refused to bend to the will of consultants and donors. While there are innumerable things to despise about Trump, one can at least realize that he has been a great success in blowing up the bloated mess that is (or was) the GOP.
Add to this the fact that the wildly corrupt Democratic Party elevated Hillary Clinton, a woman who would be indicted on felony charges if not for her name, and a perfect storm has been created for a third party candidate to play a major part. And, in another unlikely turn, the Libertarian Party chose to nominate the most qualified, experienced ticket on the ballot, instead of a suspected murderer or Internet troll. While not perfect, the Johnson/Weld ticket has run an uncharacteristically competent campaign for the LP. Both are former governors with an actual track record of accomplishing what the GOP claims to stand for. They are the best choice in 2016, and it’s not close.
But the truth is that Trump is far from the only disaster that could befall the GOP elites this election cycle. Arguably, it would be even worse, and more damaging in the long-term, for this election to prove that a third party can be viable and break the GOP’s hold on limited government types. Were Johnson/Weld to do well, no longer would the party hacks be able to tell conservatives and libertarians that the GOP was their best and only option. They would lose the “lesser of two evils” moniker. And a well-directed Libertarian Party could be a force to reckon with, as it could also count on a significant swatch of otherwise Democratic voters who actually care about peace and civil liberties.
Enter Evan McMullin. A former spy and Republican insider, McMullin is the GOP elite’s choice for the “non Trump” position. Evan seems like a nice enough guy. I have no reason to think he is running for any reason other than a genuine sense of duty to party and country. Yet, Evan faces what would otherwise be obviously insurmountable barriers. He has almost no ballot access because of his late start. An enormous part of his campaign’s money and time will be spent suing and trying to co-opt small parties. And is it also obvious he is an unqualified nobody. Almost no one even heard of him until a few weeks ago. He has almost no time to build name recognition and organization. He, without any doubt, has zero chance of winning.
Yet despite all this, many conservatives have lined up to support him. Many long-time insiders have come onboard. For at least some part of the conservative/GOP landscape, he has become the choice for those who both hate Trump, and also hate the idea of the LP gaining a foothold. Evan is the non-Trump for the people who fear potentially losing a chunk of the electorate as much as the widely-expected dumpster fire that will be Election Day. His supporters would rather waste time and effort than support the legitimate effort of Johnson/Weld.
There is almost no logical reason for most disaffected conservatives to not support the Johnson/Weld ticket. Many conservatives disagree with Gary Johnson on important issues, like abortion, foreign policy, and the legalization of marijuana. Others don’t like that he doesn’t pay heed to the pet social issues of the day. Yet for those outside the hard-core hawk and social con corps, Johnson is a no-brainer. He’s by far the most competent and qualified, and practices what he preaches. And he has a chance to really change the system.
To be honest, while it’s hard to feel too bad for McMullin given the free national exposure he’s getting, I hate that the entire McMullin “movement” is a complete ruse to take the money and votes from people to support a candidate that no one thinks will go anywhere. A McMullin donation might as well go straight to the lawyers who will be suing to get him on ballots. By running this farce, it is clear that the GOP is in even worse shape than we thought. Left with a dreadful candidate and a flawed but far superior third choice, the elites would rather use some unknown guy as a pawn in a pathetic attempt to maintain control of the party.
I’m not against offering more choices. But politics is what it is. You can either jump onboard the Johnson/Weld train and have at least some chance of shaking up the system. Or you can support Evan McMullin, and make sure that consultants and politicos get paychecks. Seems like an easy choice to me.