Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dreaming the Impossible Dream

A couple of weeks ago I read this piece by Stu Burguiere, which I thought was entertaining but impossible. But because I’ve been looking for something to hope for. Stu describes his scenario:

First, don’t try to get to 270 electoral votes. If no candidate gets to 270, then the Constitution dictates that the incoming House of Representatives would vote for President. Each state delegation would get one vote. The good news? Republicans currently hold over 30 of the state delegations, and therefore would select the next President from the top three candidates with electoral votes. You must have at least one electoral vote to be considered.
There are plenty of logistical problems with this, which we can address in a moment. But, let’s address the most pressing first. How does this NOT help Hillary Clinton?
The answer: You have to be very selective. Don’t try to get on the ballots of 50 states, or even 25. The goal is to get on the ballot of a few deep red states that Hillary Clinton has no chance of winning anyway. Essentially, you hurt Trump without helping Hillary.
Again: we never take one vote from Donald Trump in a state that Hillary Clinton can win.
Here are the scenarios that could happen:
1.       If Hillary gets 270, she’s the President. But she wins entirely with electoral votes from states in which our conservative third party candidate is not on the ballot. In other words, we had nothing to do with her victory.
2.       If Trump wins in a convincing way, he’s the President. Even if he loses a few of our small deep red states, he’ll still have more than enough to get 270 electoral votes if he can pull off a decent amount of the purple states where he goes head to head with Hillary.
3.       If Trump wins in a squeaker and would have just cleared 270 electoral votes, our candidate would grab enough electoral votes to throw it to the House. Then the Constitutional magic happens.
Do I think this scenario is likely to play out? No. Is it possible? Maybe.

What matters to me is having a soul-saving alternative for my vote. Of course I could never vote for Hillary; that would be like saying, “I never loved America, and I always thought the Constitution, and even the rule of law, were passé guidelines, and I much prefer corruption and tyranny.” So, no.

And I would never vote for Trump because he is a narcissistic, authoritarian bully—something like we’ve suffered under for the past two terms, but with even more obvious character flaws. So, no.

That means that I need an alternative. That could be a third-party or independent candidate, or a write-in. I’ve been willing to write-in Ted Cruz, even if I’m told I’m not allowed to, if it comes down to that. Or I would leave that race blank—which comes with some risks, because presidential undervote is rare and might look invalid.

So I was willing to hear from Gary Johnson. Some people I respect like him. He was reportedly a good Republican governor of New Mexico. Already he’s better than Hillary or Donald. 

But there are some big flaws. He’s ready to legalize drugs—let the buyer (addict) beware. He’s pro-abortion—because it’s about doing what you want—even though in this case there’s another human life at stake. And his stance on religious freedom is more than troublesome. He sees it as an issue of religions using their beliefs as an excuse for bigotry, so government should step in and coerce service.

The issue at stake here is mainly about same-sex “marriage,” and requiring bakers, photographers, and florists to perform services against their religious beliefs. Johnson, who usually qualifies as a libertarian, thinks government ought to override religious freedom and coerce the services. I’ve heard him explain that position a couple of times; every time his clarification makes me sure I heard him right the first time.

So, Gary Johnson would almost certainly be less bad than the two main party candidates. But if I’’m looking for a soul-saving vote, he’s not it.

Then, on Monday, a new candidate entered the race.

Evan McMullin for President
image from here

His name is Evan McMullin. Chances are you’ve never heard of him before this week. I hadn’t. But if you’re looking for a candidate with national security, economic, and legislative experience, he’s there. He spent a decade as an anti-terrorism specialist with the CIA. Then he got an MBA and worked a few years for Goldman-Sachs. Then he went to work as a policy advisor for the House of Representatives.

He’s a conservative Republican—running as an independent. Normally an independent getting into the race this late would be hardly noticeable, because there would be no chance. Maybe it would be about getting a little attention for a particular issue or point of view. But in this case McMullin might be noteworthy.

He happens to be a Mormon. To us Mormons, or those who know Mormons really well, we know what it takes to live that lifestyle. We’re pretty much the definition of social conservatives. No alcohol or drugs. No sex outside of marriage. Honest. Trustworthy. Kind. Charitable and service oriented.

It’s not something you can easily fake. We’re very connected people. While I don’t yet know anyone who personally knows McMullin, I wouldn’t be surprised if I come across someone who has in the next couple of weeks.

This is important, because there are a lot of Latter-day Saints who love America, are loyal to the Constitution, and despise the idea that either Clinton or Trump might become president. They’ve been looking at Gary Johnson—or any other alternative—to possibly deserve their vote.

McMullin is opening and headquartering his campaign in Utah. It’s actually possible that he could win in Utah. And maybe also Idaho and other Intermountain West states with a significant Mormon population. I don’t know if we’ve got big enough numbers to help in many other states. But if he wins a few states, that might be enough to trigger Stu’s scenario.

McMullin claims he is working to be competitive in all states, that things are underway to get his name on the ballot. We’ll see if he can pull that off.

Since Monday, I’ve heard him interviewed on Hugh Hewitt’s Tuesday morning radio show (might require subscription to hear). Hewitt is conservative, but he doesn’t suffer fools easily. It was respectful, and McMullin presented himself well.

Then I saw a longish Bloomberg interview, from Monday. McMullin had a chance to go over his history and background, his policies, and his reasons for getting into the race. He waited, hoping someone with more name recognition would step up. But, at this nearly last minute, he decided to go for it. He’s had a team looking into the possibilities for some months, because there are some big challenges getting on ballots across the country.

There’s a Monday night ABC News interview where he takes on Clinton and Trump, asserting they are both are "woefully unfit for the responsibilities they seek." While he’s careful about the words he uses, he doesn’t hold back. I think it was in this interview I heard him say, "I've spent my life trying to serve and avoiding the limelight. Trump has spent his life avoiding service and seeking the limelight."

He was interviewed on Glenn Beck Radio this morning, and again presented himself well.    
Chances are you’re going to hear more about this quixotic candidacy. You might as well go to the source and see what he says about the issues:

·         National Security
·         Jobs and the Economy
·         Education
·         America’s Role in the World
·         Health Care
·         Energy and the Environment
·         Government Accountability
·         Life
·         Poverty
·         Veterans
·         The Second Amendment
·         Trade
·         Immigration

He’s got a statement on each. I’ve read them. For the most part we’re in agreement. Even where we’re not exactly aligned, I don’t know yet if that is careful speaking on his part. I was for Ted Cruz all the way. Cruz speaks in bold capital letters. McMullin speaks sotto voce but mostly head on. There’s enough here that I want to know more.

This is a little like starting to date someone. You’ve had a really good first date. Wanted to keep talking. Want to get together again really soon. See if this will go somewhere. You want it to. Especially because—as a twist to the story—you’ve got three months to make the commitment or you’ll lose your inheritance. Something like that.

So, I’m not sure I know everything I need to know just three days into the relationship. But I’m hopeful. I’d like to have a country-saving vote. But at the very least, I’m hopeful that in McMullin I’ll have a soul-saving vote.

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