What Third Party Candidates Say About the State of the GOP

By Ethan Skelskie ’18

The most recent Utah polls show independent candidate Evan McMullin separated from Republican nominee Donald Trump by 8.5% and Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton by 1.1%. His shock insurgency candidacy divides the Republican vote and for the first time in 40 years, Utah is a swing state. McMullin, a former Republican congressional advisor and a Mormon, has a strong showing in Utah. McMullin’s rise came following the leak of Republican nominee Donald Trump’s controversial comments on groping women, leading many devout Mormons to desert him on moral grounds. McMulin calls himself a “true conservative,” supporting empowering states at the expense of federal government, and cutting federal regulations. His criticisms of Donald Trump draw attention to perceived moral discrepancies between himself and the Republican Nominee. In particular, he highlights Trump’s statements on Muslims, women, and veterans.  While Utah is by far McMullin’s strongest state, his meteoric rise is indicative of larger trends within the Republican Party.

McMullin’s rise came as a reaction to the rise of Donald Trump and the alt-right. Alt-right ideology perceives white identity and values in the United States under threat from “political correctness,” thereby serving as a vehicle for Mr. Trump’s popularity. Much Alt-right political activity was born from internet forums such as 4chan.They differ from traditional conservatives in their view of free markets, as they believe commercial interests can endanger the preservation of western culture. Central issues to the alt-right include immigration and political correctness.

By contrast, Gary Johnson’s brand of Libertarianism flies in the face of both traditional conservatism and alt-right ideology. Akin to traditional conservatives. Mr. Johnson believes in deregulation, trickle down economics and small government. More specifically, Mr. Johnson opposes Wall Street Regulation, supports the Keystone XL pipeline and the trans-Pacific Partnership. However, Mr. Johnson differs from traditional conservatives with liberal stances on the war on drugs (he famously supports marijuana legalization) and criminal justice reform. Mr. Johnson’s candidacy provides a third option to conservatives who don’t know how to vote in this complicated election cycle.

The contrasts between the alt-right and the shock candidacies of Evan McMullin and Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson (at present, polling between 4-7% nationwide) are evidence of a larger split within the Republican Party. Traditionally bonded by a core of ideas, the GOP has split among ideological lines. Many lifelong conservatives express difficulty embracing the alt-right ideology of Donald Trump, opting for Mr. McMullin’s professed “Conservative values” or Mr. Johnson’s brand of Libertarianism. Similarly, many of Mr. Trump’s supporters have abandoned traditional Conservatism as they feel “politics as usual” has left them behind. This divide has led to much infighting within the Republican Party. One such example is the public feud between House Speaker Paul Ryan and Mr. Trump following Speaker Ryan’s diverting of funds from the Trump campaign to House and Senate races following Trump’s controversial comments. This ideological split within the Republican Party could prove to be irreparable. Ultimately, it is uncertain what the future holds for the GOP. What is certain is that Party leadership must act quickly to stop this rift from causing further damage.

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/15/us/politics/evan-mcmullin-campaign-utah.html
  2. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/09/us/politics/evan-mcmullin-independent-candidate.html
  3. http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/utah/
  4. http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/politics/evan-mcmullin-utah/
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/08/us/donald-trump-tape-transcript.html
  6. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2016/president/us/general_election_trump_vs_clinton_vs_johnson-5949.html
  7. http://www.npr.org/2016/08/26/491452721/the-history-of-the-alt-right
  8. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/opinion/gary-johnson-take-a-deep-breath-voters-there-is-a-third-way.html
  9. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/us/politics/third-party-gary-johnson-jill-stein.html
  10. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2016/10/21/us/ap-us-campaign-2016-evan-mcmullin-the-latest.html
  11. http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/
  12. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/opinion/campaign-stops/third-party-voters-know-what-they-want.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FJohnson%2C%20Gary%20E.
Filed in: Politics

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