Throughout this presidential election, many have found it difficult to feel excited about the two major party candidates, Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Within this political context, several third-party candidates have gained significant support for their campaigns, though one has been stunted by a lack of knowledge of the geographic placement of Aleppo, while another faces arrest warrants after protesting a North Dakota pipeline.
Nevertheless, one candidate has outlined an alternative vision for the nation and is quickly gaining steam in polls in several states. Former CIA operative Evan McMullin announced his candidacy quite late — Aug. 8 to be exact — but is running his campaign on the idea that “it’s never too late to do the right thing,” a message resonating with voters across the country. Though he may not win the presidency, McMullin’s candidacy is a noble effort to offer the nation a vision of moral fortitude and pure conservatism in a race that is lacking both from the two most prominent political parties.
Since McMullin announced his candidacy, he has made an effort to share his credentials with voters, yet many Americans are still unfamiliar with him. With a background in international diplomacy, McMullin has served in a variety of roles. He worked on refugee resettlement in Jordan, on counterterrorism and intelligence operations with the CIA, as an investment banker, as senior advisor for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and then as the chief house policy director. While Trump struggles to outline a clear direction for American foreign policy, and Hillary clings to failed ideas, which have brought about a destabilized world over the last eight years, McMullin presents a clear and well-thought direction for our nation.
But what exactly is the purpose of his candidacy? McMullin’s campaign means more than just a conservative third-party candidate’s bid for the White House. The efforts of his campaign highlight the fact that although some claim Trump represents the Republican Party, he will never represent conservatism. McMullin has taken upon himself the admirable burden of being the level-headed foil to Trump, demonstrating how a real conservative would respond to today’s issues and Clinton’s lackluster campaign.
With its optimistic message rooted in conservative principles, McMullin’s campaign has risen above the chaos of this election and has understandably earned the votes of millennials who feel especially distraught at the direction and tone of this election. A recent poll showed him four points ahead of Trump in Utah. His base of support is rapidly growing across the nation, and thousands of people are beginning to view him as a viable option, especially as Trump’s campaign continues to flounder and spiral downward in the polls.
The truth is that both main party candidates have disqualified themselves from the office of the presidency. America deserves better from its leader. The president is not only the greatest power-holder in the free world but also the cultural leader for a generation. In the end, character is king, and we should honor our right to vote by choosing leaders with high moral foundations. We as Americans have the obligation to reject sexism, corruption, racism and power-hungry politicians, no matter what side of the aisle they come from.
A vote for the lesser of two evils is still one for evil. The only vote we can honorably cast is one for a person who inspires hope and optimism for the future of our nation. The truth is, I do not know what the future of the Republican Party looks like. However, I do know that there is a powerful base of support for conservative ideals and high moral standards in our leaders, and in this election, that support is embodied through Evan McMullin.
Hunter Estes is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.