Unconvincing mainstream presidential candidates face independent threat

The U.S. presidential elections have given us plenty to talk about this time. Every day, candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump blast each other in the media, a battle which has had repercussions beyond the country, creating misunderstandings with Russia and Mexico. Clinton and Trump’s respective vision and style are diametrically opposed, and none of the two candidates seems to be able to fully convince their respective constituencies that they are the best choice.

For the Democratic Party, Clinton is a moderate liberal bet, but with some nuances. While her candidacy has been widely supported by her party, even with keynote speeches by current President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden, and her former president husband during the Democratic National Convention, Clinton has been haunted by several issues. Mainly, she has been questioned for possible corruption associated with the Clinton Foundation, her poor management of cyber security and questionable foreign policy decisions as Secretary of State in the current administration. In addition, Clinton is the first female Democratic Party presidential nominee. All this makes her a different candidate from what we had seen before.

Clinton’s campaign proposals continue the liberal social justice policies outlined by Obama, emphasizing an active fight against terrorism in collaboration with international allies, stronger control over gun ownership, and liberal policies supportive of reproductive rights (including abortion) and tax increases, especially, but not exclusively, for large taxpayers.

On the Republican side, Trump has been a very controversial candidate, starring in the media for his aggressiveness, disrespect and lack of humanity and decency (both for her political adversary as well as for members of the veteran and Latino communities, the press, and others) and an unpredictable style. He has even provoked Russia (presumably jokingly) to interfere in the elections by hacking Clinton to find her controversial deleted emails. In addition to his obvious lack of presidential temperament, Trump’s business career has been plagued by bankruptcies, in which the only beneficiary has been himself, at the expense of his collaborators. In short, just like Clinton and to an even greater extent, Trump is clearly an unconventional candidate.

As for his campaign proposals, Trump has appealed to a strong nationalism. Negativity and fear are his main tools. The Republican candidate has exaggerated the current weakness of the U.S. economy and has highlighted an increasing feeling of insecurity because of terrorism. In response to these threats, Trump proposes an aggressive anti-immigration policy, deservedly earning the disdain of Latino and Muslim communities, mainly. His principal and most controversial proposal in this area has been building a huge wall alongside the Mexico border. Trump has also proposed to “bomb the hell out of ISIS”, but besides that, his strategy for defeating the terrorist group is still a mystery.

Both Trump’s and Clinton’s proposals contemplate an increase in fiscal spending, which could benefit the economy, as long as it doesn’t prompt an excessive increase in the fiscal deficit. Beyond this, it is difficult to find points of agreement between the two candidates.

For their adherents, even though both candidates do offer some interesting proposals, they do not convince fully because of their past failures and current controversies, and extremist proposals in the case of Trump. Given this scenario, candidates Gary Johnson for the Libertarian party and Evan McMullin as an independent (formerly Republican) should not be disregarded as potential alternatives for the electorate. Opinions are generally unfavorable to Gary Johnson and his unconventional proposals, but in the case of Evan McMullin, he has quickly risen as a reasonable alternative to the mainstream candidates.

Evan McMullin was born in Utah and is just 40 years old, but has considerable international experience as a missionary in Brazil, as a volunteer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan and as an undercover operations officer with the National Clandestine Service, for the CIA, serving in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. McMullin is also currently an International Board Member for the Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has also been a senior adviser to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in 2015 served as chief policy director of the House Republican Conference.[1] In the private sector, he worked for the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs in Silicon Valley. McMullin also holds an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.[2]

McMullin has strongly criticized Trump, but also Clinton. He has come out to face both candidates with his “It’s never too late to do the right thing” campaign slogan, refreshing U.S. politics with a healthy dose of common sense, decency, enthusiasm, and compassion. Factoring in his first-hand experience fighting terrorism both in the front-lines and as a policy-maker, and his business experience, McMullin presents himself as an exceptional candidate to face some of the biggest challenges currently facing the U.S.: internal division, the threat of terrorism and the slow economic recovery following the 2008 sub-prime crisis. McMullin has argued that the very essence of the U.S. as a country is at risk because of the internal division generated by current events.

In such an important election for the U.S., and by extension for the rest of the world, at times of great global economic and geopolitical challenges, hopefully, the electorate will react in time and will not end up voting for “the lesser evil” when there are better options at the table. As McMullin himself has remembered us, as the quote goes, “a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.” The stakes are just too high to settle for that.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_McMullin

[2] https://www.evanmcmullin.com/about