Evan McMullin, a longtime member of the GOP, quit his job in August to campaign for president as an Independent. He was horrified by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and decided to offer Republicans another option. It was a protest campaign, sure, mostly focused in the Mormon candidate's home state of Utah. But here's the thing; McMullin's campaign is gaining traction as Election Day draws near. While a month or two ago, many people had never heard of him, these days, many disillusioned voters are madly googling things like Evan McMullin's policy on undocumented immigrants to find out if he might have a more realistic plan than the whole "just build a wall and don't let anyone in" Trump bit.
McMullin and his running mate, Mindy Finn, are long-standing Republicans. McMullin is a former CIA-operative who also served as the House GOP's Chief Policy Director while Finn worked as a Republican consultant. McMullin is in the running to potentially take all six electoral votes in Utah from the two official presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. How? As this has to be the most divisive presidential campaigns in U.S. history, many voters (particularly Republican voters who feel let down by their party's support of a candidate they don't seem to actually believe in) are looking for a fresh voice. While McMullin might not exactly be a trailblazer with his policies, he is offering voters a more moderate option. And maybe that mild moderation is just what the doctor ordered.
Take a look at McMullin's stance on undocumented immigrants, for instance. While the Trump/Pence ticket has taken a hard line against immigrants of all kinds, McMullin acknowledges the rich history of immigrants who helped create the United States, writing on his official website:
While addressing illegal immigration, it is vital to remember that legal immigration is one of America’s greatest strengths. Immigrants and their children have a long record of hard work, starting businesses, and creating jobs. Still, we need to reform the legal immigration system so that it prioritizes American interests and security, including the protection of workers from low-wage, low-skill competition.
McMullin has a plan to secure the border as well: As a former CIA operative with 15 years of field experience under his belt, McMullin believes the American government should hire 20,000 new border security agents and consider investing in better surveillance equipment to patrol the borders. He does believe the walls along the southern border that have been started should be completed:
...It is a waste of taxpayer dollars to build a wall from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico—and if someone says Mexico is going to pay for it, they may also try to sell you a degree from Trump University.
And now I like him just for the Trump University joke.
Realistically, McMullin will probably not wake up on Nov. 9 and say, "Holy cow, I'm the President of the United States." But that's not even necessarily McMullin's long-term plan. According to The Los Angeles Times, McMullin said in an interview that he is trying to start "a new conservative movement" to repair the badly fractured Republican party post-election:
We're skeptical the Republican Party can make the kind of changes it needs to make in order to be a viable political vehicle for the conservative movement. But if they can't, then we'll have this movement and we may have to start something else.
Regardless of who wins this next election, the GOP is going to need some help. McMullin might just be the man for the job.