Howard Last: Evan McMullin is the future of the conservative movement

Independent McMullin would be free to represent everyone, not just the bosses of either party.

(Briana Scroggins | Special to The Tribune) Utah independent Evan McMullin spoke during the Utah Democratic Convention at Cottonwood High School in Murray, Utah on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

In an election as turbulent as this, it’s important to figure out how we got here. One word: grassroots.

To analyze an election, one must analyze the electorate and its wants and needs. The incredible electorate of Utah, by making this race a dead heat, have proven that they want a fresh start. They don’t want to be marred by the legacy of Donald Trump, of Sen. Mike Lee and of anti-democratic riots.

Let it be known that my personal support for Evan McMullin is not a repudiation of Donald Trump, but an embrace of Trump’s former, 2016, self. When he first ran, he ran on a platform of listening to the unheard, forgotten American and he won. He won because he understood the people and their problems.

In 2020, Trump was out of touch and far less electable. In 2021, he was even worse; the January 6 attack on the capitol, on our very democracy, proved the depths of his lust for power.

Nowadays, the once-future of our Grand Old Party is stuck in the past. This is not a winning strategy. Few Americans want to relitigate the last election, and yet supposed fraud is all he has to talk about.

But let me be clear, independent Evan McMullin is no Trump and certainly no Mike Lee. Lee is dangerous, not only to America but the wider world. Lee is a threat to democracy at home and abroad. He isn’t prepared to denounce American fascism, let alone defend Ukrainian democracy against Russian aggression.

Can you imagine an America that projects weakness to the world? That’s not just Joe Biden’s America, it’s Mike Lee’s, too.

Lee has another problem, too, an increasingly radicalized Republican Party. The “I” next to McMullin’s name means more than just “independent” on the ballot; it means independent in his thinking, independent from the partisan bickering and deadlock, and independent from the people who want an end to fairness and democracy.

The “I” next to McMullin’s name means he is free to represent you and all of Utah, rather than any special interest group willing to cut Mike Lee a check. That is why it is so paramount we elect Evan McMullin as our next senator.

Americans are hoping for a candidate who will look to the future, and Utahns are desperate for it. Utahns deserve it. The candidacy of Evan McMullin represents the future. Just as William F. Buckley Jr ushered in a new era of conservatism by listening to all sides of the right and combining them into a force to be reckoned with, Evan McMullin is looking past factionalism and to a future majority that leaves no one behind.

Utah is ground zero for the next political coalition that will listen to all sides and represent all stripes in our society.

That is why I and so many others support Evan McMullin. This is for my children, their children and the future of a conservative movement that will be more inclusive, welcoming all Americans.

Howard Last

Howard Last, Salt Lake City, is studying politics at Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, in England.