Conspiracies are fun to contemplate, more for some than others. I am not obsessed. As I see it, a conspiracy is merely a secret enterprise. Though maybe that needs to be a little more selective: an enterprise kept secret because illegal or disreputable. Be that as it may, I have only been associated (if usually in small roles) with public enterprises — where the publicity is integral to success — than to engage in shady dealings in back rooms.
Though like anyone I have private affairs, and I fully acknowledge that some of a public business’s biz is not everybody’s bIzzy.
All this apropos of what? One candidacy in this election that, though legal, can hardly be considered reputable: the presidential candidacy of Evan McMullin.
McMullin. If you have not heard of him, it is likely the result of the fact that he has only belatedly entered the contest, is not well known — the darkest of dark horses — and is on the ballot in only eleven states. As a late-comer “independent” he would seem to have a limited chance of doing much else but take away votes from Donald Trump.
That’s the public motive, anyway. Matt Welch at Reason notes that his campaign is designed to appeal to “Trump-averse conservatives.” And he does demonstrate some appeal to conservatives of several varieties: he is some sort of a conservative and he is not Donald Trump.
But Nicholas Sarwark, Chairman of the Libertarian Party, probably offers the most accurate description. McMullin, according to Sarwark, is “a former CIA operative who was an insider in Washington and at Goldman Sachs . . . propped up by dead-end neoconservatives like Bill Kristol and shameless Republican political consultants like Rick Wilson. . . .”
His own campaign statement, which I peel off Ballotpedia, sounds earnest:
Millions of Americans are not being represented by either of these candidates. . . . With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines. Our country needs leaders who are in it for the right reasons and who actually understand what makes this country the greatest on earth.
But, whatever he thinks his “right reasons” might be, I think I know his main backers’ real reasons. So, what are they? Consider. . . .
Having decided to run at such a late date — August 8 — ballot access cannoy help but be a big issue, and makes his run seem . . . futile. That is, futile unless he is preparing to start a huge minor-party movement, or leverage the run for an after-election takeover of the fractured GOP. (My guses: he is not. But could have it in the back of his mind.) But there is almost certainly another rationale at play.
The key to understanding this race is simple: He is on the ballot in two states that are important to Libertarian candidate Gov. Gary Johnson: Utah and New Mexico.
Could it be that his sole real purpose is to suck votes away from the former governor of New Mexico, as well as from Trump, and thereby help elect Hillary Clinton?
Yes. That is the “conspiracy.”
But why, you ask, would any conservative seek to help Hillary?
Because the neoconservative supporters of McMullin are just that, neocons, which means they support an activist, perennially Pyrrhic, always-murderous foreign policy. All the time. Forever. That is their chief (nearly only) interest, and — keep this in mind — Hillary Clinton is the only neocon in this election. Gary Johnson is in favor of what we used to call “strategic disengagement”; Donald Trump is a wild card in terms of foreign policy, having taken positions all over the map; Jill Stein is a peace nut (full disclosure: I am too).
Why all this trouble just to scuttle a possible good showing by Johnson? Because the neoconservative wing hates the libertarians, especially (but not solely) on foreign policy grounds.
The fact that McMullin and Company would bother with a Sisyphean campaign so late in the game is telling.
But kudos to the neocons: you are proving your reputation as insider “players” and schemers. This is high-end dealing: a sacrifice candidate is Machiavellian strategy.
One problem: if voters refuse to be fooled by Trump, and so instead vote for what in chess would be called a Knight or (I prefer this, for connotative associations) Rook Sacrifice, they are merely being fooled again.
But it is fairly easy to fool voters. No problem.
The conservative movement is now officially split, in open civil war. And the commitment to liberty, the rule of law and other such old-fashioned standards of American civilization, may be a thing of the past for conservatism in these United States. With Trump flouting every bit of the spirit of our laws with his Big Man act, and McMullin set to siphon off any remaining possible good effect (an Electoral College stalemate) of the Johnson/Weld campaign for limited government, the cause of ever-bigger government is now more firmly ensconced than ever.
Happy Hillary presidency to you, happy Hillary presidency to you.
Meanwhile, in the spirit of Cato’s Carthago delenda est, the neocons must be destroyed.
P.S. I just heard Jonah Goldberg on last night’s Kennedy hazard that, with Evan taking a state, and the whole thing going past the Electoral College to the House, Evan could be the next president. But that all depends on Trump fairly evenly taking votes from Hillary, which seems less and less likely. We’ll see. A McMullin presidency would no doubt be preferable to a Clinton or Trump presidency. But perhaps not by much. The neocon legacy needs no boosts.