Patrick Allitt

How the Mormons dumped Trump

Evan McMullin is running for president of the United States. A Mormon from Utah, a former CIA undercover agent, he represents what the Republican Party ought to look like this year but does not. Convinced, like many of his co-religionists, that Donald Trump is a disgrace, he speaks with quiet confidence about restoring dignity and respect to American conservatism.

So far he’s on the ballot in just eleven states, and showing most strongly in the Rocky Mountains. He may actually win in the Mormon stronghold of Utah. He’s just forty years old and his running mate, Mindy Finn, a Jewish high-tech entrepreneur and conservative feminist, is only 36. They won’t win the whole thing, of course, but they’re enjoying themselves by telling the truth and deploring Trump and Clinton with equal vigour.

Among all the normally solid Republican voting groups, the Mormons have shown the strongest aversion to Trump. One of their own, Mitt Romney, was the Republican candidate in 2012, exhibiting most of the typical Mormon attributes of hard work, sobriety, and prosperity, while espousing traditional family values. Trump, in their view, represents a horrible decline. Their church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News, recently condemned the ‘hucksterism, misogyny, narcissism and latent despotism that infect the Trump campaign’. A Utah congressman said, after the release of the notorious groping tape, that he would be unable to look his fifteen-year-old daughter in the eye ever again if he continued to support Trump.

Ironically, McMullin has more political experience than Trump, who’s never worked in government and never run in any election. McMullin served as a CIA officer in Jordan and other middle-eastern countries, then became a Republican foreign-policy advisor on Capitol Hill. He’s savvy about the benefits of free trade, has a nuanced (as opposed to rabble-rousing) approach to immigration reform, and favours lower income taxes.

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