The Uniter in Utah

Mike Lee is almost certainly the closest thing to a bona fide constitutional conservative that the U.S. Senate currently has to offer. Like all men, he is flawed and will sometimes let his heart be swayed by pragmatic interests. And like all politicians, he must always be viewed with a healthy skepticism, given what any modern politician must do to win elections and gain status within his party. Lee, however, has been somewhat insulated in his principles by the fact that he is from Utah, where electoral victory is assured for anyone who has gained the Republican nomination. Yet today, Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer, a Wharton MBA, and a milquetoast without any clear political philosophy who has spent five years pretending to be the “uniter” that America needs although he has yet to attract any voters, is challenging Lee’s senate seat in the midterm elections.

Though running as an independent, McMullin has the full backing of Utah’s Democratic Party. Though claiming to represent the “center-right,” he voted for Joe Biden in 2020, rather than simply refusing to vote for Trump. He has made Lee’s association with the Trump faction’s post-2020-election shenanigans a major talking point of his campaign, although a minimally objective look at Lee’s statements and messages during the weeks before January 6th, 2021 shows that he was trying to respond to Republican voters’ honest (though misguided) concerns about possible election fraud while at the same time being insistent that the Trump team needed to provide some evidence to back up its claims — and it is well-known that when he did not get that evidence, he stepped away from the “stolen election” claims and voted to certify the electoral college votes on January 6th. In fact, at Trump’s rally on January 4th, he criticized Lee by name for refusing to vote against certification, telling the crowd, in his typical twelve-year-old mean girl style, that he was “a little angry at him today.”

In short, Evan McMullin is a nothing who stands for nothing apart from being anti-Trump, and his primary backers and political allies at the moment are Democrats. Mike Lee has conservative principles, a genuine enthusiasm for the U.S. Constitution, and yes, some soiling of his reputation through his excessive willingness to play along with Donald Trump. But to face the obvious, he, unlike his “good friend Ted Cruz,” did not sell his soul to Trump or compromise all his beliefs in a desperate play for the love and support of the Trump cult in future elections.

It may be a sad fact that Mike Lee is the best the Republican Party now has to offer. It would be a sadder fact if Utah sacrificed Lee in favor of a boastfully unprincipled compromiser who merely stands for “protecting democracy.” Protecting it from what? From Mike Lee? Protecting it for what? For more of the same old Democrat-lite ratcheting that Washington’s Republican establishment has made its stock-in-trade for sixty years? Once again stating the obvious, the reason the Democratic Party is supporting McMullin against Lee has nothing to do with threats to democracy, or Trumpism. It has everything to do with the left’s perception of Lee as a particularly frustrating and well-spoken opponent of much of their unconstitutional progressive agenda for “reform.”

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