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Opinion: Do you care about character in politics? Look no further than Evan McMullin

According to George Washington, good moral character is key to leadership. How does Evan McMullin hold up?

SHARE Opinion: Do you care about character in politics? Look no further than Evan McMullin
Senate candidate Evan McMullin talks to members of the media about PACs running misleading ads against him.

Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin speaks at a press conference on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 in Salt Lake City.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

How important is character when considering who we should elect to represent us, make our laws and provide oversight and checks and balances in our government? According to George Washington, the father of our country and arguably one of the greatest leaders to have ever lived, “a good moral character is the first essential.”

We would be wise, then, to use the qualities of a good moral character as a guide as we decide who we will vote for to represent us in Congress — qualities such as integrity, respect for others, responsibility, fairness, compassion and humility.

An immediate problem arises, of course, if there isn’t a single candidate in a given race who exemplifies these qualities. Unfortunately, given our current political duopoly and its natural propensity to fuel extremism by catering to the most partisan members of both parties, this happens all too often, particularly in our presidential races.

Thankfully, in Utah’s 2022 senatorial race, this isn’t the case. In this race, there is one candidate who stands as a genuine example of strong moral character — Evan McMullin. It shouldn’t surprise us that McMullin has eschewed our deeply troubled two-party system and is running as an independent.

McMullin is the real deal. He is who he says he is, and he believes what he says he believes. He is a true patriot who loves our country and is guided in all he does by his commitment to sound principles and to defending the Constitution, protecting American democracy and upholding the rule of law.

Unlike his opponent, McMullin has not taken money from super PACS or special interest groups. He has been bold and consistent in his positions and has never backed down or changed his stance for political expediency. He is hardworking, honest, fair, compassionate and humble — all traits that George Washington would have admired. Even while arguing for the necessity of moral character, Washington acknowledged that “few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” Unlike his opponent, McMullin has that virtue. He will not be beholden to special interest groups or anyone except his constituents.

But while a strong moral character is “the first essential” in a good leader, it is not the only one. It is necessary but not sufficient. Fortunately, McMullin is also an experienced and capable public servant with broad, real-life experience in policy and foreign affairs. In fact, it would be difficult to find a more qualified candidate for senate.

From the time he was a young boy, McMullin knew that he wanted to serve our country. After a two-year mission in Brazil for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he attended Brigham Young University, graduating in international law and diplomacy. Each summer while he was in college, McMullin did internships with the CIA in Langley, Virginia. He also spent a year in Israel and Jordan, learning Arabic and working as a refugee resettlement officer.

After graduation, he was hired by the CIA and worked as a CIA operations officer for nearly a decade. He then earned an MBA at Wharton in 2011 before being hired as a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (2012–2015) and as a chief policy director for the House Republican Conference (2015–2016).

In 2016, deeply concerned about the alarming polarization of our country, McMullin ran for president as an independent. Since then, he has continued his efforts to build bridges, repair the divide and protect democracy through his nonprofit organization, Renew America Movement. He has never stopped working for our country and for the principles in which he believes. His devotion to the Constitution is genuine and unwavering, as evidenced by his life and his work and not by empty declarations or by waving around a pocket-sized version of the document.

McMullin is a unifier. He is committed to fighting extremism, finding common ground and moving our nation forward in a civil and sensible way. He will work with others in the senate to pass bipartisan legislation that the majority of Americans support but that has been stalled because of partisan gridlock.

Our constitutional representative democracy will fail if we don’t elect leaders who care more about preserving our democratic ideals and institutions than about maintaining their own power and advancing their own political agendas.

Utah needs a senator who will give more than lip service to the principles upon which our nation was founded. Imagine the power and influence of not just one, but two great senators from Utah with the integrity to stand for truth and not be beholden to the highest bidder.

Sharlee Mullins Glenn is an author, advocate and community organizer. She currently sits on the external advisory board for Brigham Young University’s Civic Engagement Program. The views expressed here are her own.