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Opinion: 5 reasons why I believe Evan McMullin is the senator Utah needs

Evan McMullin represents a change Utah — and the nation — needs

SHARE Opinion: 5 reasons why I believe Evan McMullin is the senator Utah needs
Evan McMullin stands to speak at a pulpit with a campaign sign that reads “Courage to lead” in front of a large American flag.

U.S. Senate candidate Evan McMullin speaks to a group of supporters in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. McMullin was also joined by Michael Steele, former chairman of the National Republican Committee, and Ben McAdams, a former U.S. representative.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

I remember being a 17-year-old sitting in a mall watching a water fountain in Las Cruces, New Mexico, thinking about my older brother leaving for college and realizing the only constant in life is change. Funny thing is I actually thought I had discovered a novel idea. Oh the “wisdom” of youth!

Yet that simple idea — something hard not to discover in the course of one’s life — is difficult for many of us to fully embrace, especially when we lack clarity on how change will benefit us. We fear that what we now enjoy will disappear. 

Utahns have a chance to make a statement for change that will reverberate across the nation. This year. This election! Yes, it means change. That is the point. And it will be a vote to prioritize leadership and governance over tribal partisan warfare

Evan McMullin’s campaign for the U.S. Senate is not ordinary. It is resonating because it challenges the status quo. He is running as an independent who will not exclusively align with either party in Washington, D.C. He is a conservative seeking to lead, govern and solve problems.

It represents change in a highly visible way. It is bold. It is refreshing. It is exciting.

Yes, McMullin’s approach is risky. But it is risky only because it challenges the supreme control our two-party system gives to the Republican and Democratic parties today. It is a calculated risk with a huge upside that will benefit Utah and trigger change across this country. 

Consider these benefits your vote for Evan McMullin as U.S. senator will bring Utah:

  1. Utah will be front and center. A divided Congress today only progresses on the votes in play. Utah represented by Mitt Romney and Evan McMullin will be the most sought after state for passing legislation. Think of the only progress on issues we’ve made recently — it’s a small group of collaborators.
  2. Parties will be forced to put forward and promote ideas on their own merit rather than solely seek to control political machinations in Congress. What we are doing today is simply not working.
  3. Your vote will count. Make no mistake, a McMullin win will be the story of the midterm elections. You will be a part of history. 
  4. Taking a stand for loyalty to country over party gives us hope that we can rise above blind partisan gridlock to actually debating the complex issues of our day to try and refine solutions that work. Together. It means honestly listening to different perspectives and choosing the best options.
  5. You will give breakthrough leadership a chance — while change in one U.S. Senate seat will not bring wholesale change, at least it is a statement of change and an experiment worth trying. Now.

This change is big. It sets a new precedent for the role of the political party.

Running as an independent is not new in the U.S. Senate. Over our history, 77 have served representing a third party or had an independent status. Utah Sen. Frank J. Cannon (1896) was elected as a “Silver Republican” and was a central player in getting Utah’s statehood realized before becoming controversial in his criticism of the election of Reed Smoot. Today, Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vermont) and Angus King (Maine) are both independents, but they caucus with the Democratic Party. 

McMullin will not caucus with either party exclusively. Instead, he will work through the hundreds of others congressional caucuses and informal groups centered on issue resolution and bipartisan debate to find answers. In other words, he will attempt to lead to find common ground and solutions.

Aside from claims that McMullin is funded by Democrats (I’m a registered Republican like so many others who are supporting his campaign), the most common attack is that his plan is not practical. Critics argue he will be shut out of committees (controlled by the two parties) and, therefore, not have a say in the process. Republican leaders have already tried that “punishment” route with Romney.

What are congressional committees accomplishing today other than grandstanding partisan warfare and shutting down any room for compromise and debate? Isn’t this formal part of the process one of the real problems in how Congress operates today? 

It is not working. We are simply kicking the can down the road to future generations on almost every major issue of our time. McMullin not serving on committees is one of the primary points. We need to change that structure.

Ultimately, solutions come through the competition of ideas and collaboration of people interested in progress. A democratic republic, such as ours in the U.S., will thrive when there is a true marketplace of ideas. We need informed leaders we elect to debate these ideas and enact legislation. If something doesn’t work well, we ask such leaders to go back to try again.

Partisan leaders today would have you believe that a vote for anyone outside your party is disloyal and will lead to disaster. This simply is not true. I am a registered Republican because I agree with certain principles that party stands for in the public debate. But I do not believe Republicans have the only ideas that will work. That’s what fascist and communist dictatorships believe, not what our Founding Fathers fought to establish in this land.

Your party should be the source of vision, ideas and solutions that inspire you. It shouldn’t be the sole determinant of your vote.

I believe this unique moment in time gives each Utah voter the chance to make a stand and do something historic — something you’ll remember for a lifetime. 

Be a part of change. Embrace the potential good that can come to challenge the partisan gridlock I know most of us believe is simply not serving us well today. 

Maury Giles serves as a court appointed special advocate for children in the foster care system. He also serves as a governor-appointed board member on the Controlled Substance Advisory Committee and the Health Care Facility Licensing Board, and has been involved in leading the creation of a ballot initiative to change how we elect our leaders in Utah.