Looks like this election might be getting a little more crowded, and strange. In addition to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein, Republican and ex-CIA officer Evan McMullin has declared his intentions to enter the presidential race. In a very public move to counter his own party’s nominee in Trump, McMullin, who has never held public office, has begun the process of getting his name on the 2016 ballot.
“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up,” McMullin said in a statement to ABC News. “It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President.”
For Trump, who had seemingly survived any issues with the Ted Cruz roll-call people and had gone on to unite the party at the Republican Convention last month, McMullin’s act of defiance/desperation signals some real trouble- for the campaign and the party. Trump is already trailing Clinton by a wide and ever-increasing margin, and any points that are directed elsewhere are going to be costly.
As a voter who is less than pleased about the two choices representing the American people, McMullin offers the closest thing to military experience of any of the candidates. And as something that used to be a highly sought-after quality and even a near-prerequisite, military service has all but disappeared from national politics. At first glance, McMullin seems like a fed-up citizen who is putting his money where his mouth is. While that’s a respectable thing to do, it’s also extremely poor timing. According to this very informative ABC News article on how to run as an independent:
An independent candidate gets on the ballot in each state by obtaining the number of signatures required to do so. The issue is that each state has a different deadline and more than half have already passed. There are nine deadlines in the upcoming week, worth 109 electoral votes, and 10 more in the rest of August, worth 74 electoral votes. The remaining five deadlines are in September.
So, at second glance, it appears to be a futile, ill-timed effort. The best case scenario seems to be McMullin causing enough of a distraction to bring Trump’s and Clinton’s attention back around on the issues at hand. Maybe we will be lucky enough to see a transformation from Trump, sensing that the longer McMullin sticks around and makes noise, the longer it’s going to take to heal the Republican party.
Image courtesy: Penn In Washington, YouTube