In 1968, 11 men vied for the Republican nomination.
Proven Goldwater conservative, Ronald Reagan ran not only in a crowded field, but against an established, former Republican VP who already ran for President. (And very likely robbed of victory) Every odd was against him. No one took him seriously.
I despise the ubiquitous deign of those looking to wear Reagan’s legacy, but I bring him up now only for the sake of historic context. Erudition is a value appreciated here at Redstate, so I feel confident you’ll accept my honest contribution.
According the book, “1968: The Election That Changed America,” the entire push came from grassroots supporters, who even spent $200,000 of their own money to place ads on TV, despite his not even being a candidate. Nixon finished with 35.4%. However, Reagan earned the highest total: 35.9% of the vote. He still lost to Nixon, a favorite among delegates – and a consensus choice – at the convention. (By chance, this is the last time a nominee has gotten as small a percentage as Donald trump did this year)
This is the kicker: Reagan won by write-in votes. Before the advent of the modern primary system, his name only appeared on state ballots where local officials moved to place him, but Reagan had no operating campaign seeking them out.
This was the last primary before the birth of the modern system we know today. Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller represented the two establishment camps in the party, and the disaffected supporters of Barry Goldwater were still feeling the sting of 1964, but with no candidate, until Reagan stepped up. He had “no chance,” and yet he affected the convention in every way, forcing the delegates to work through the decision.
This is a lesson in two things: direct democracy doesn’t always work, nor should it. Ultimately, we elect representatives, either in parties or our government. And that’s ok. Nixon won in November. But secondly, WRITE IN CAMPAIGNS WORK. And there is still a place for democratic influence on our representative system.
Last point: Ronald Reagan was not running for president until TWO DAYS before the nomination. His initial announcement came on August 5, 1968. Think about it.
A DIGITAL WORLD = ANYTHING POSSIBLE
In today’s digital world, with instant communication and truly national grassroots campaigns, anything can happen. Under the old GOP rules, trump would have never been made the nominee, but here we are. Now, an actual Republican has stepped up, three days later than Ronald Reagan did. Evan McMullin has drawn praise and disdain from both sides of the conservative movement, as he pursues a 12th amendment strategy to stop both wildly unpopular candidates and send it to the House. Through ballot placement or registered write-in, he will be a landing pad for honest voters in over 40 states November 8. And, if his strategy succeeds, the House of Representatives will have to work through the decision. Is his chance slim? At least he has an operating campaign – trump is simply renting arenas and offering free tickets to his alt-reality shows. McMullin is actually doing the job of a candidate – phone calls, knocking doors, mobilizing volunteers.
His supporters don’t have to fight against someone. They don’t have to vote in fear. They don’t have to rationalize. They aren’t having to say “yeah, but…” He is surrounded by some of the best in the business, from comms director Rick Wilson and data targeting expert Joel Searby to foreign policy guru and National Review contributor, Dr David Adesnik, of the Foreign Policy Initiative and AEI. Fmr Senator Slade Gorton, General Michael Hayden and several others have lifted him up as a breath of fresh air.
Evan McMullin speaks as fluidly and confidently about policy as someone with decades of experience in the political lion’s den, while showing genuine humility and respect for others. To think that this is a relief says a lot about this race.In the waning days of the campaign, some are capitulating out of the irrational fear of a Democrat candidate who lusts for power. But in doing so, they’re wearing the red letter of a man who lusts for drama as much as he does for power. Donald trump is like Frank Underwood on the Bachelorette – the only difference between him and Hillary Clinton is the venue – and the issue of emotional stability.
This summer, I wrote that as a #Nevertrump conservative, I would accept the consequences, preferring to fight a tactical enemy than an ideological terrorist. At least her presidency wouldn’t destroy what’s left of the only vehicle we have to combat liberalism in our culture and government.
But finally, I have something to fight FOR in this race. McMullin also gives exhausted conservatives a reason to get to the polls November 8th and vote, down ballot as well. His candidacy just might save a Republican Senator somewhere.
I’m proud to #StandUpWithEvan McMullin. An honest, intelligent new generation conservative who’s laid his life on the line for our country. Now, he’s simply asking you to join him in this. He’s not the first one to realize that it’s never too late to do the right thing.
You shouldn’t be the last.