As I wrote a few days ago, I cannot agree with those people who believe that it is always irresponsible to vote for a third-party presidential candidate; that an election can never present choices, that is, that deserve protest. I’m glad that Evan McMullin entered the presidential race, even late in the day and without a shot at winning, because he gave conservatives who cannot in good conscience vote for either of the top two candidates in the race someone for whom to vote. But McMullin has undertaken a more ambitious goal than just serving as a placeholder for conservative values that would not otherwise be on the ballot. Instead of just making the case that conservatives should vote for him rather than for Trump or Clinton, he has also been making the case against the Republican party and its leadership as they stand. The party’s support for Trump, he has been arguing, has shown it to be hopelessly compromised and proven the case for a new party. This new party would, apparently, take most of the positions of the old one but be much more welcoming to people of different hues and less tolerant of racism.
I disagree with much of this. Starting a new party won’t solve any of conservatism’s problems. While Republicans must do more to appeal to nonwhite voters in the future—and could hardly do less—racism seems to me overstated as an explanation for Trump’s support. And I have not seen any indication that McMullin appreciates that an economic platform of free trade, entitlement reform, tax cuts centered on high earners, and (vague) calls for deregulation needs to be rethought, or at least supplemented, for voters to find it compelling.
But I’ve disagreed with some of the views of every candidate I’ve ever backed for president. And the many places where I agree with McMullin, from the need to protect unborn children to the desirability of unobstructed trade, seem more important. McMullin’s philosophy of government and character are much closer to what I want in a president than are those of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gary Johnson—all three of whom I consider, for various reasons, unfit for the presidency. I intend to vote accordingly.