Dan Phillips: Evan McMullin? NeverTrump Still Doesn’t Get It


Evan McMullin

Dan Phillips, also known as Red Phillips, is an IPR contributor. He originally published the following article regarding the entry of independent candidate Evan McMullin into the presidential race on August 10th, 2016 at EconomicPopulist.org:

We have long been promised that if the convention coup plot failed, as everyone who knows anything about the process knew it would, and Donald Trump emerged as the Republican nominee, that the NeverTrump bitter-enders planned to put forth an independent challenger to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to represent self-proclaimed “real conservatism” and/or “real Republicanism.” After some teasing by author Brad Thor that never materialized, NeverTrump has found its candidate. It is … drum roll please … wait for it … Republican House functionary Evan McMullin.

I didn’t think it was possible for NeverTrump to field a more underwhelming candidate than David French, but they have managed to do it. At least die-hard NeverTrumpers and Trump supporters had heard of French due to his incessant Trump bashing at National Review, but not even wonky political obsessives have heard of this guy.

I have long said that NeverTrumpers were astoundingly clueless and didn’t understand the dynamic of this campaign or how the paradigm has likely (hopefully) been forever changed by it. They ran in the primary and continue to run a campaign about who is the most pristine “conservative” as defined by highly flawed movement “conservative” standards, but that’s not the campaign many Republican primary voters were responding to. A plurality of GOP voters were more interested in who is going to best represents us against them.

The choice of McMullin to head the NeverTrump independent ticket demonstrates that they still don’t get it. They don’t even remotely get it. Sometimes in the world of internet pontificating an op-ed just writes itself. An op-ed skewering McMullin is such a case. It just flows effortlessly off the pen. The guy is a veritable caricature of what is wrong with NeverTrump. If I didn’t know better, I could imagine him being a psyop parody of all that is wrong with NeverTrump in an attempt to discredit them. (He is a former spook.)

McMullin does have some impressive credentials, as I conceded that David French has some impressive credentials. They just aren’t the kind of credentials, notably name recognition, that make someone a good candidate to be a late starting supposedly credible independent challenger for President. The less credentialed but much better known Brad Thor would have been a better option if he had decided to run.

That said, I’m not going to focus on McMullin being a no name ID no-hoper, because he is reasonably well credentialed by independent and third party standards, which despite NeverTrump’s pretenses, is how he should be judged. The problem is the nature of his credentials. Where to even start?

After graduating from BYU, a not insignificant fact as I will discuss below, he joined the CIA. NeverTrump security state agenda item: check. Now while Trump is not where I would like him to be on the security state issue, I get the sense that Trump’s support for the security state is a kind of man on the street, tough on crime and terrorism support. I do not get the sense that Trump is ideologically committed to the security state in the way the NeverTrump brain trusts are. I don’t know if a history of being a CIA agent necessarily turns off a large number of voters, but I suspect it inspires ambivalence in many, especially when viewed as part of the whole package of this guy.

After working at the CIA, McMullin went to work at Goldman Sachs. Yep, you read that right, Goldman Sachs. NeverTrump agenda item financial market approved: check. Goldman Sachs? Really? After all the trouble Cruz had with the base because his wife worked for Goldman Sachs, did the NeverTrump vetters not recognize this as a major liability? Are they really that clueless and out of touch, or did they just not have any other options?

McMullin then left Goldman Sachs and went to work in Washington, D.C. as a Republican apparatchik. His first assignment was as senior advisor to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. NeverTrump agenda item hawkish interventionism: check.

Later he moved on to be the Chief Policy Director for the House Republican Conference, where according to the linked Breitbart article above “he was responsible for advancing the policy agenda of the Republican leadership in the House.” NeverTrump agenda item continue status quo globalist policies: check.

McMullin is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. NeverTrump agenda item Establishment approved: check. This speaks for itself. I can’t decide which is more tone deaf under the circumstances, Goldman Sachs or the CFR.

In the past McMullin has worked as a volunteer Refugee Resettlement Officer for the United Nations. Nope, I’m not making this up. NeverTrump agenda item invade the world, invite the world: check. NeverTrump agenda item globalist approved: check.

On Facebook he has criticized Donald Trump for his stance on Muslim immigration. NeverTrump agenda item prissy moralistic PC grandstanding: check. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we had been restricting immigration we wouldn’t need that whole security state thingy, but I know. I know. That wouldn’t be “who we are” and would violate our “principles.” Apparently NeverTrump believes one of the supposed principles of the Framers was self-destructive stupidity.

Ostensibly, the purpose of NeverTrump running a candidate, other than spite, is to win enough states to prevent either Hillary or Trump from winning the necessary Electoral College majority, thus throwing the contest to the House of Representatives. This scenario is extremely implausible for many reasons, however, and the more likely actual intent is for McMullin to deprive Trump of a victory in one or more Red states that he needs to win, thus handing the election to Hillary.

This is where McMullin being a BYU grad comes in. For reasons that it would be interesting to speculate about, Mormons make up a disproportionate number of NeverTrumpers, a fact that is reflected in Trump’s relatively poor poling numbers in deep Red Utah. The transparent aim of the NeverTrumpers and their obscure Mormon candidate is to cause Trump to lose Utah and maybe some other heavily Mormon western Red states and lose the election as a result.

As I have repeatedly argued, the NeverTrump honchos have never really cared about preserving the purity of the “conservative” message no matter how deluded much of the rank and file may be on this matter.  The forces behind NeverTrump are threatened by Trump and the resonance of his campaign and unique issues cluster because his more nationalist and populist message breaks script and threatens their control over the narrative and their gravy train. NeverTrump is about keeping the GOP and “conservatism” safe for globalism, and nothing illustrates this more than the selection of a former CIA agent, Goldman Sachs employee, CFR member, PC preening open borders, foreign policy interventionist party hack as their candidate. It is hard for me to believe that NeverTrump is really this clueless and out of touch. What kind of a movement conservative bubble do you have to live in to not see McMullin’s vulnerabilities as a candidate just screaming at you? As the kids say, I’m smh.

This article was also published at Intellectual Conservative.

22 thoughts on “Dan Phillips: Evan McMullin? NeverTrump Still Doesn’t Get It

  1. Thomas Knapp

    Nice analysis, Red. This election is definitely a puzzler.

    My own theory is that McMullin is actually a stalking horse FOR Trump and/or an attempt to suck up some of the third party vote and prevent any kind of non-D/R breakout that might still be a problem four years from now.

  2. Richard Winger

    Wednesday, August 10, was the filing deadline in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Ohio. He didn’t file in any of them except Colorado, where no petition is needed. Even though he didn’t announce until August 8, he said he had been thinking about it for 2 weeks before he announced. I thought perhaps his forces would have petitioners and petitions ready in those states, but I guess not.

  3. Jill Pyeatt

    This is a good analysis, Red.

    I am so disgusted with Presidential politics that I just want to stay drunk until the election’s over. Then, I’ll just probably just find some nice room somewhere where I can bang my head against the wall for the next few years.

    I’m in California, of course, but it’s pretty obvious to me that Clinton will win–whether she really wins or not. I asked my FB Monrovia Politics page (Monrovia is the name of the town I live in) if one of the Clintonites could please give me a list of things Hillary has done to make Americans’ lives better. I kept getting responses that she was “secretary of state, first lady, yada yada,” and I’d re-ask the question: What has she done to improve the lives of Americans? “Oh, she was senator, married to Bill, yada yada”. Finally someone manages; “First responders?”, and he included a question mark, meaning he was unsure that was a correct answer. I never got an answer. These pathetic, non-thinking people will follow their zombie-noses to their voting sites on Election Day and further destroy our country.

    It’s beyond me that a country with so many people in it cannot find someone decent to be our President.

  4. Antirevolutionary

    BFA should have nominated Mike Maturen and Juan Munos of the American Solidarity Party.

  5. Peter Gemma

    What Trump zealots don’t want to see is the ever-growing chunk of conservatives and run-of-mill GOPers who are desperately seeking alternatives: McMullin, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, those who will stay home or only vote down ballot on Election Day (even Green Party) – and, gasp, Republicans who will vote for Clinton – are making his candidacy die from a thousand cuts. 4% here and 6% there adds up.

    Surveys show 25-33% of GOP grass roots will not vote for Trump … GA is in play … Utah is in play … Clinton pulled her ads from CO because she’s so far ahead … Trump hasn’t organized Ohio yet … he’s booked no ads (Clinton is spending $98 million during the Olympics) … and now Trump is campaigning in Connecticut?

    Even if he had the temperament, character, and consistency on/understanding of key issues, his campaign is moribund. I ran a better campaign for president of my senior high school class (um, I lost).

  6. Peter Gemma

    Those (modest) numbers are coming out of his hide. Polls show Clinton splitting the independent vote – she’s up 13 points for that constituency. He has nowhere else to turn.

  7. Thomas Knapp

    “Those (modest) numbers are coming out of his hide.”

    On the contrary — #NeverTrump votes are votes that by definition were not available to Trump. They were GOING to go somewhere else. The only question is WHERE else.

  8. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    Peter Gemma: Surveys show 25-33% of GOP grass roots will not vote for Trump …

    Every election year, many Dem and GOP voters say they won’t vote for their party’s nominee. Almost all of them “come home” by November, because they’re so scared of the opposing candidate in this “most important election in our lifetime.”

    I doubt that 25-33% of the GOP’s grassroots will desert Trump in November. Most of them will “come home” to the GOP, because they’ll find Hillary too frightening to contemplate.

  9. Andy

    Going by my own anecdotal evidence I have obtain from talking to thousands of people, Donald Trump is pretty popular among rank-and-file Republicans. I have seen more grass roots support/enthusiasm for Trump than for any Republican candidate in a long time.

    Also, the wasted vote syndrome is very high, and Hillary Clinton is hated by most rank-and-file Republicans, so I bet that a lot of Republicans who are not wild about Trump will vote for him anyway just to block Hillary.

    The neo-conservative establishment elite may vote for somebody else, but the majority of the GOP will vote for Trump.

    So I do not see Mr. New World Order Jr. above having much impact on the election. He jump in way too late to have a real shot of impacting the race.

  10. robert capozzi

    teeth: Every election year, many Dem and GOP voters say they won’t vote for their party’s nominee. Almost all of them “come home” by November, because they’re so scared of the opposing candidate in this “most important election in our lifetime.”

    me: True, but DJT’s support from Rs is far lower in this cycle, which should be no surprise, given the long list of profoundly outrageous statements he has made. Most of HRC’s problems are “at least” in the past.

    We’ll see if things revert to the historical trends, or whether DJT has a McGovern or Mondale-type outcome. Or even something else, given the extraordinary nature of this cycle.

  11. Thomas Knapp

    Quoth Andy,

    Going by my own anecdotal evidence I have obtain from talking to thousands of people, Donald Trump is pretty popular among rank-and-file Republicans. I have seen more grass roots support/enthusiasm for Trump than for any Republican candidate in a long time.

    I don’t talk to as many people one on one as you do because of your line of work, but anecdotally I get the same impression.

    The party establishment isn’t happy.

    The country club faction isn’t happy.

    The rank and file, including evangelical Christians, whose “leaders” ran for the front of the parade as soon as they saw what direction it was going in even though Trump isn’t their type, seem on board. Perhaps not in quite as many numbers on the “meh, I guess I’ll vote for him” scale, but with an abundance of enthusiasm from the ones who ARE on the bandwagon.

    The Republicans who don’t vote for Trump will be a smaller group than most people think — and many of them will stay home rather than turning out for some other candidate.

  12. robert capozzi

    tk, not sure who you put in the “country club” bucket, but most R voters I know are middle-class suburban white collars, and soccer moms. They seem largely aghast by DJT, though some of them may well hold their noses for him. Soccer moms of an R lean, however, will most likely tip heavily to HRC.

  13. Andy

    Robert, I have been on the streets gathering petition signatures in multiple states during the course of this presidential election, and the overwhelming response I have gotten from Republicans about Trump is positive. Sure, some do not like him, but they are a minority.

  14. Thomas Knapp


    The people you describe sound like the lower tier of “country club Republicans” — and of “limousine liberals.” They’re doing well, they feel economically secure, they don’t want the economic boat rocked (by Trump in this case), and when it comes to social issues they make the gestures but they’re not particularly exercised either way and would rather not rock THAT boat themselves (lest they wake up the people Trump is talking to). They’re probably leaning Clinton regardless of their formal party affiliation.

    Trump is talking to the economically insecure and their families. Truck drivers. Steel workers. Auto workers. Blue collar and low-level white collar who don’t see a path upward for themselves and constantly feel in danger of being knocked even further down the economic ladder. The lower middle and middle middle class, basically.

    He’s telling them that the reason they feel the way they feel is that the American government made “bad deals” with them furriners across the oceans, and that them other furriners from down south are coming up here and taking “their jobs” (or at least holding down wages and keeping them from moving up in the world). So he’ll make better “deals” with those sneaky Japs and he’ll build a wall to keep the Mexicans in Mexico, and everything will be all better.

    It’s bullshit, but I can see why the people he’s selling it to are buying it. Nobody else is offering them a more persuasive explanation for their malaise, unease, angst, whatever you want to call it.

    They’re not a majority in and of themselves but IF they vote for Trump as a bloc — like they did for Reagan in 1980 — they’re a plurality, quite a bit of which comes out of the Democrats’ hide. If other elements of the GOP “base” — like religious social conservatives — remain sufficiently loyal even though Trump’s not “really our guy, but he’s the Republican, so …” he can win.

    I think he WILL win. I have him pegged for 289 electoral votes — every state Romney carried, plus Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida.

  15. robert capozzi

    tk, bold, in that he’s currently polling behind HRC in all those states.

    “Either way you look at it, you [and we all] lose.”

    aj, are you petitioning on the West Coast, mid-Atlantic, or Northeast?

  16. Thomas Knapp

    “k, bold, in that he’s currently polling behind HRC in all those states.”

    Like they say, three months is forever in politics. I think the polls will shift, and I also think Trump voters, Johnson voters and Stein voters will be more likely to turn out than Clinton voters.

  17. langa

    While I don’t expect Trump to win, I do think it will be much closer than the latest polls would indicate. Part of the reason for that is, as TK says, there is a long time before the election. But even if the election were held tomorrow, I would expect Trump to do better than the polls say, because I think there are a lot of people who are strongly considering voting for him, but are reluctant to admit it, even to a stranger.

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