Part 2- Why it’s important that conservatives have a candidate they can proudly vote for, rather than a candidate who only represents what we’re voting against
In part 1, I described the scenarios we face as conservatives going into the voting booth this November. No matter what we do, it’s practically inevitable at this point that Hillary will be our next president, barring a miracle. I made the case that although it’s tempting to vote for her to make sure Trump is defeated as soundly as possible, we shouldn’t give in to that temptation. In this diary, I hope to persuade my fellow conservatives that there’s a stronger argument to be made that voting for an independent conservative candidate like Evan McMullin will be better for the conservative movement and the country long-term than voting for Hillary, regardless of how big her victory is against Trump.
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If every conservative who’s against Trump voted for Hillary in order to stop Trump, what was the point of an independent conservative like Evan running in the first place? Many objected to him running and said it was pointless because he had no name ID, but even if he was a famous conservative, that wouldn’t change the above line of argument that says Hillary is the only option to stop Trump, thus making the name ID argument invalid.
It’s not enough to just vote against Trump, as important as that is. As Christians and conservatives, we must have a leader who we can vote for, who we can point to as a person who represents our values, beliefs, and principles. We must have a moral and intellectual representation of who we are as a movement, otherwise we’ll just be seen as reactionaries who were disgusted with Trump, but didn’t have the guts or the vision to present a credible and realistic conservative alternative to him.
By having a leader like Evan who will stand with us and for us, we’ll not only have someone to point to when people ask how we’re stopping Trump, we’ll have the leader of a new conservative movement. The split Trump has created both within the GOP and the conservative movement as a whole has left a void, one that will be left empty if we all just voted for Hillary instead of Evan. It’s dangerous and ultimately damaging to our cause to leave such a void, because inevitably it will be filled either by nationalists, or by progressive, big gov’t Republicans who don’t represent us or our beliefs and are just Democrat-lite.
Conservatives should vote for Evan because he fills that void. He’s stepped up to the plate and made the sacrifice of running an honorable campaign in this chaotic environment. He’s shown that he’s fit to be president and has conducted himself with honor, integrity, and truthfulness. For that, and the reasons I described above, he should be rewarded with our votes.
Furthermore, a conservative with an optimistic and inclusive vision both for the movement and for the country can attract women, young people, and minorities- all of the groups Trump is losing to Hillary in droves. Right now they’re politically homeless, because neither party really represents them, or is giving them good solutions to the problems they face. We need to get their attention and show them that there are such solutions, and we’ve been talking about and fighting for them for decades, even if most Americans aren’t aware of that. We have to look beyond 2016 and have a long-term vision for our movement, because this is about more than just one election, it always has been.
It’s about defining who we are as Christians, conservatives, and Americans, and about how we can create more conservatives and add people to our movement without turning people off or diluting our principles, as Trump has done. The grassroots activists are crucial in this fight, but we need a leader to represent us. Evan is that leader, and he can and already is attracting the groups I mentioned above.
The conservative movement’s problems go far beyond Trump. We have to decide what kind of movement we want to be. Do we want to be inspirational, optimistic, inclusive, decent, compassionate, and open-minded, or do we wanna be reactionary, crude, dumbed-down, angry, close-minded, and isolated? Do we want more of phony conservative entertainers like Sean Hannity, or more of principled and thoughtful conservative talk show hosts like Charlie Sykes? This is the choice we face going forward, and it has nothing to do with Trump, who will be long gone (from the political arena, at least) after he loses this election, barring a miracle.
People who make this all about Trump on both sides of the debate are missing the forest for the trees. Trump is merely a symptom of the moral rot that’s been eating away at our culture for decades. This is about being honest about the problems our country faces and applying conservative values and principles to them. Our primary goal in politics shouldn’t be to win elections, or win the culture wars, it should be to help people and make the country a better place to live. If we win the culture wars as a result of doing that, then great, but that should be secondary.
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Trump would be worse for the conservative movement than Hillary for many reasons, some of which I’ve already described. He would be like a less competent version of Nixon. Conservatives voted for Nixon in two elections despite the fact that he wasn’t very conservative ideologically. His actions and policies as president confirmed that. This led many Americans to start being cynical and not trusting their gov’t, and for good reason. But it also led many of them to start thinking Nixon represented all Republicans and conservatives. As a result of this, after Gerald Ford replaced him as president, he lost to Carter, a very liberal candidate who took the country to the far left. If Nixon had stayed in power, there’s little doubt he would’ve lost to Carter in 1976.
Yet this ended up being a good thing, because Carter was grossly incompetent as president, and was so blinded by his progressive ideology that he failed to see how disastrous it was for the country. This caused many Americans to wake up to the reality that conservative policies work and progressive ones don’t, and when Reagan presented them with “bold colors, not pale pastels”, they elected him in a landslide over Carter. If Trump is our Nixon, Hillary is our Carter. She’ll try to ram down our throats at least some of the same failed progressive policies he did, and I believe if we nominate another Reagan, or the closest thing we can get to him, we’ll have the same result in 2020 as he had in 1980- a victory.
But in order for that to happen, we need to start rebuilding the conservative movement from the ruins Trump has left it in. We can’t do that without a leader, and we can’t do it without a plan. We need to start forming relationships with minorities and groups all over the country who’ve never been reached out to by Republicans before. We need to show them what positive change in their communities can look like. Beyond that, we have to create a policy agenda that will act as a credible alternative to Hillary’s progressive policies. I’m sure we’ll have our disagreements over what the pieces of that agenda should be, but we’ll need to come to some sort of consensus about them, and then present it to the American people. Think of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, only presented by someone without Newt’s baggage.
Then, we have to support our members of Congress who will try to get as many pieces of that agenda passed as possible. They might fail many times because of Democrats’ efforts to block them, as well as Hillary’s vetoes, but they need to make every effort to pass them, and if they do, we should do our part to support them every step of the way.
We also have to recruit new people into the conservative movement, including as many millennials as possible, so that they can reach out to their peers and bring more young people with them. The GOP has done a terrible job marketing their brand to young people, because it’s mostly made up of old white guys who don’t have a clue what it’s like to be a young conservative in today’s environment. We need to have people within the movement work to branch out into entertainment, sports, academia, and media so that we can at least start to chip away at the monopoly Democrats have on those areas of our society. Liberals have used their dominance in the broader culture to help them win presidential elections, and we simply can’t cede that ground to them any longer.
These are just some of the things conservatives need to do to start preparing ourselves for the fight that awaits us in the next election, and to create the best possible environment for a conservative to win in 2020. Immediately after November 8th, we need to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, roll up our sleeves, and get to work not just on rebuilding our movement, but on rebuilding our families, churches, and communities. After all, those things are the backbone of our society, and as they go, so goes the country. It will help a great deal if we have men and women like Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn to lead us in this battle for the soul of our nation and work with us in the rebuilding effort. That’s why I’ll be voting for them on November 8th, and I urge all of my fellow conservatives to do likewise.