Obviously, We’re Supporting McMullin (and So Should You)

And of course, it is equally obvious that there is no good reason to believe that anything which appears on this blog could actually convince any particular Utah voter to cast their ballot the way we’d prefer. But “no good reason” is not, in fact, the same as “absolutely no reason whatsoever.” In that bizarrely hopeful spirit, By Common Consent is happy to give voice to two Utah voters who really, really, really want every single one of their fellow Utah citizens who read this to cast a vote for Evan McMullin for U.S. Senate on or by November 8. We do this 1) because the wishes of these two voters are, in our judgment, both righteous and correct, and 2) because their perspectives—one from a self-described “conservative former Republican,” the other a self-described “independent voter”–likely express well those of many BCC readers, including, just possibly, some still unregistered voters somewhere in Utah. So consider this our public service this election year. And now, to our contributors!

First, from the conservative former Republican:

As Utah contemplates whether or not to allow Mike Lee to continue his efforts to subvert democracy for another six years, it is worth revisiting the last time his political career was hanging by a thread.

I use that metaphor deliberately to associate it with the prophecy/folklore/nonsense that the United States Constitution will likewise dangle precariously, and it will be the elders of Israel who ride in on a white horse to save it. This has been the animating idea of all Utah Republican politics for as long as I can remember, and certainly for as long as Mike Lee has been alive. It is therefore the reason Lee repeatedly announced on the 2010 campaign trail that he, Mike Lee, was the wise man raised up unto the very purpose of mounting said horse and rescuing his pocket Constitution from the brittle thread upon which it dangleth. 

Actually, no, he never said that. That would be too much for non-loons to stomach, and it would have given a name to the fermenting extremism that would ultimately splatter into Lee’s victory. Lee was never so direct, but he always couched his campaign stump speech in religious language and culture. He spoke of “releasing” the sitting senator with “a vote of thanks,” and, more significantly, he ended each stump speech quoting Doctrine and Covenants 101:80 about the “wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” to write the Constitution, trying very hard to get his audience to think that he, Mike Lee, the not-so-wise future Trump sycophant who envisioned an orange Captain Moroni, was the guy who would somehow be charged with saving it.

This was an effective strategy, for the most part. He sounded reasonable enough that mainstream Republicans didn’t feel threatened, but those looking to Lee as their Constitutional savior heard enough dog whistles to satisfy them. They knew he had to play nice for the RINOs, but they knew that Lee was one of them.

Then, right before the 2010 Republican State Convention, somebody said the quiet part out loud.

A day before the convention, a postcard arrived in every delegate’s mailbox. It showed Bob Bennett standing in front of the U.S. Capitol and Mike Lee standing in front of the Salt Lake Temple. The headline screamed “Which of these men really represents Utah values?” On the back of the flyer, it proclaimed that Mike Lee was the hanging-by-a-thread guy and screamed explicitly everything Mike Lee had been preaching implicitly for well over a year.

Going into the convention, all polls showed Lee running away with the whole thing by garnering over 60 percent of the vote, eliminating the need for a primary. But after that mailer hit, Lee’s numbers all but collapsed. He barely eked out a second place convention showing behind Tim Bridgewater and scrambled to rebuild his support to win a modest primary victory a few months later.

This story remains relevant in 2022 because it serves as a reminder of just how rancid Mike Lee truly is.

When Mr. Save-the-Constitution was working hard to prevent the peaceful transfer of power in 2020, he did so with what he still considers his mandate from heaven. He genuinely believes that God put him in office to save the Constitution. So when he spent fourteen hours a day trying to find state legislators to overthrow the Constitution, he was doing it on God’s orders. The Trump-is-Captain-Moroni garbage wasn’t some casual error; it was emblematic of how Lee sees himself and his cause. He is delighted to have accomplished nothing whatsoever and always being the one senator voting nay when 99 others vote aye.

A brittle thread, after all, has to stand alone.

Mike Lee is therefore worse than just a run-of-the-mill lousy senator. He is political and religious poison. His extremism is accompanied by delusions of divine sanction. That kind of venom needs to be sucked out of the Senate and spewed into the spittoon of history.

Please vote for Evan McMullin.

Second, from the independent:

I have spent a lot of time writing about why I will not vote for Mike Lee, and a lot less time on why I’m voting for McMullin. So why am I voting for McMullin?

In short: the alternative is Mike Lee. That is a huge reason for why I’m voting for McMullin, and I’ll be up front about that. If Lee were not the alternative choice, maybe I would not be pulling for McMullin so hard because McMullin is not my ideal candidate. But the alternative is Lee and it’s hard to do worse than Lee.

We know who Lee is, what he stands for, how he operates, and his beliefs. Now, Lee has made that the heart of his campaign pitch, but unlike Lee, I don’t think that is a ringing endorsement. He has not represented the people of Utah or the GOP well. He has been the lone veto on a host of important issues; he publicly compared Trump to Captain Moroni; and we have his texts and actions leading up to January 6th, which he still has not accounted for. I could continue, but I have spent too much time writing about that.

Instead let me explain why I think McMullin is a good choice. Here’s why:

I think our country is in trouble. January 6th should have been a bigger wake up call for us, but many of us are going along as nothing has changed. Our country needs us to rethink and think outside the box and to change some of the status quo that led to that moment of crisis and has led to many people ignoring it since then.  We need some reimagining, restructuring, and restoring. That’s the message McMullin is running on, and we need more people to buy into that idea. We need people who will work to ensure events like Jan 6th don’t happen again. We’re at such a desperate point, I’m willing to take a gamble with McMullin. Because I know what we’ll get from Lee, and I’m not sure we can afford more of it.

McMullin’s pitch is creating a coalition of voters he will listen to. That is something Mike Lee has not done for a long time—listen to constituents. If it turns out McMullin doesn’t listen to voters or create this coalition, then he will be like nearly any other politician. But too many, like Lee, don’t even try to pretend to listen anymore. Signaling that we will demand more from our politicians than Lee has given us is necessary. McMullin is at least trying.

McMullin has not vilified half the state of Utah as evil and corrupt. Approximately 50% of the state are registered Republican voters in the state. However, notably many are registered Republican for strategic reasons. We know how Lee feels about us who aren’t loyally Republican. I love that we have a candidate in McMullin who is committed to seeing humanity in people, who can look past party labels. McMullin is trying to say people matter, not just what letter they have next to their name. I also want to reward that message.

McMullin could have a unique and unprecedented role to play. Lee and several ads are saying we can’t vote McMullin because what if the senate is close and it comes down to how McMullin votes. They say we won’t know how he will act then. I actually think that would be very exciting for our state! If this came to fruition, I think it would give Utah an interesting role to play that we have never played before. Having a senator that people need to convince to vote with them on any particular issue would make Utah a powerful state in ways we have never been before.

He’s publicly committed to work across the aisle and caucus with both parties. Maybe when he gets there, he reneges on that message. But I love the idea of having an elected official free to leverage principles rather than party. A candidate who is saying he will work with everybody is an exciting prospect to me. It’s worth a shot!

McMullin is not the liberal many make him out to be but nor is he a follower of Trump. Why conservatives should vote for him: The reality is before Trump McMullin would have been considered staunchly Republican. He broke from the party (like many of us, including me) after Trump’s ascent and his utter transformation of the Republican party. For those worried, he will be liberal—he’s about as traditionally conservative as they come. So for liberals: why vote for him then when we aren’t conservative and want a liberal? What distinguishes him from Lee? He’s was willing to go against the current and stand up to some of the more dangerous elements of the GOP. We need to reward more of that and principled conservatism. And again, the alternative is Lee.

McMullin has his moments. He has moments where I see a flash of greatness.

McMullin can win! My gut says that Lee will win this race but only if people like us do show up. If even a fraction of the disenfranchised voters, the moderates, independents were to vote, then McMullin would win. People are counting on us to stay home. This is the best chance we will have in decades to effect change in our state. It comes down to who shows up. So let’s surprise everybody, and show up. Let’s be that voice for change. It’s worth trying. Worst case, we vote and Lee wins anyway, but at least then, we can still say we did everything we could.

Let’s make it happen, Utah!


    1. […] for example, Mike Lee.  Utah voters, please vote, and please vote for McMullin.  I don’t super love McMullin, but I can’t bear another six years of Lee.  I just […]

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