I watched almost none of the third and, mercifully, final presidential debate. I tuned in just long enough to see the candidates respond to a question about gun rights. In that minute I saw Hillary Clinton dissemble about her support for the Second Amendment, followed by an outright falsehood about the Heller case. Given a hole a mile wide to drive through and dismantle Clinton’s farcical response, Donald Trump did what Donald Trump does best: offer an utterly incoherent, babbling jumble of words about how Hillary was totally pissed – yeah Donald saw her that day and she was mad – about the decision.
And I wept. And then I went back to the baseball game.
As I said on twitter, imagine how great the response would have been if only Republicans had nominated the person who actually argued the Heller case before the Supreme Court. I was corrected – Ted Cruz wrote briefs, but did not argue the case. Nonetheless the overarching point still stood. It’s difficult to watch any of these debates and not visualize Ted Cruz meticulously slicing and dicing Hillary Clinton to shreds. Heck, despite his pre-New Hampshire primary debate meltdown, it’s difficult not to envision Marco Rubio absolutely destroying Hillary Clinton during these debates. Or, for that matter, just about any Republican capable of stringing together two complete, coherent sentences together (I’m being generous on his ability to get one out).
In a completely depressing election cycle, that might have been the lowest point. Indeed I was struck by a deep melancholy over what might have been. I know many of us snark and crack jokes on social media about the election, but last night it seemed so much less fun than usual. It really isn’t funny, in any way. Conservatives had literally the greatest opportunity in the history of this republic to finally put forward a capable, intelligent, stalwart candidate capable of winning a general election. For, contrary to what many have said, just about any in the Republican field, in particular Cruz and Rubio, would have wiped the floor with Clinton. And once either of them had been elected, they would have had much more stable Congressional majorities to work with than any of their GOP predecessors, at least since the New Deal era.
Instead we got Donald Trump, a man nominated on the backs of moderate “Republican” primary voters who never voted in primaries before. People saw the flashy red hats, the repeated incantations of a catchy slogans, and the constant blathering of an idiot who told them exactly what they wanted to hear, and they said, “That’s the man who will make America great again and stick it to the establishment RINOs.” You know, the guy who is the very definition of a political insider and is, literally, a Republican in name only.
I don’t want to go too far afield in this post, but I’m frankly done with all the apologies for Trump primary voters. I’ve read the approximately 8 million “this is why Trump was nominated” stories, and while many of them make good and true points, it doesn’t really nullify the fact that many of his most ardent supporters were conned, not to mention that yes, some of them truly are deplorable alt righters who absolutely should be shunned once the orange goblin has been defeated. Unlike some I won’t be calling for a round of purges (other than some of the more notorious elements of the infotainment industry), but there will be nothing wrong with Birching the alt right.
With all that out of the way, it’s time to pick an actual candidate. Yes, as I was reminded, four years ago I wrote “to cast a ballot for some third party is the equivalent of not voting for president.” Painful as it is, there is still some basic truth to that, but the circumstances have changed. Unlike four years ago, there was truly daylight between the two major party candidates, and despite his many flaws, Mitt Romney was worth voting for ahead of Barack Obama. I cannot say the same of Donald Trump with regards to Hillary Clinton.
We’ve also reached a point that there is much of a chance that Evan McMullin, the man whom I will be writing in for president, will be our next president as Donald Trump. No amount of fantasizing will make the polling chasm between Trump and Clinton disappear. And I say this as someone who was not completely dismissive of Trump’s general election chances at the outset. But he’s done.
I’ll admit we don’t have great options before us for third party options. Again, to quote myself, “It would be a curious choice for any Catholic to vote for Gary Johnson out of protest against [Donald Trump] considering that Johnson is pro-abortion, favors legalizing prostitution, and would have government out of the marriage business altogether. In other words, voting for him is truly cooperating with evil.” Johnson is a non-starter. As usual, the Constitution Party candidate has surface appeal until you start peeling back the layers. Jill Stein . . . no. And so there is Evan McMullin.
To be honest I am not sure I’d even give Evan McMullin a second look if this were a Republican primary. He seems solidly pro life, even if his campaign website’s language is fairly milquetoast. His response to the Obergfell decision was cringe inducing, as was his later effort to distinguish between wanting justices to overturn Obergfell versus overturningRoe. He supports a path to legalization, and otherwise seems to take the John Kasich tact of ignoring threats to our national security and our sovereignty.
And yet he is the best of the lot that remains.
Perhaps my support for McMullin should put to rest the idea that I’m looking for ideological purity, for if I were, I’d just write myself in. I’m not looking for purity, but rather someone who can cogently defend some basic conservative principles. While not ideal, he is the only candidate I can even think of supporting, and so I will offer up my utterly useless, tepid endorsement.
Can he win? I’m not about to engage in the flights of fancy that translate a win in Utah into him somehow capturing an election thrown to the House of Representatives. As an historical curiosity he does seem somewhat likely to win Utah, which would make him the first third party candidate to win a state since 1968. Beyond that, he is not likely to make too much noise.
But why not? A majority of Americans are disgusted with both major party nominees. I don’t see a gun pointed at any of us forcing to vote for either. Why have we so lazily accepted this fate? Yes, I know what I said four years ago, but we’re presented with a situation in which both candidates are manifestly unfit and unworthy. It is beyond idiotic to be offered the choice of a turd sandwich, shit salad, and wedding banquet chicken breast, and insist on pretending that chicken breast isn’t there. So excuse me while I enjoy this utterly dry, tasteless, yet healthy and not foully offensive bit of chicken.
(NB: Originally posted on my blog, the Cranky Conservative.)