Throughout this US election season, there’s been a small but vocal “Never Trump” group of conservative Republicans who refuse to get on board with the party’s nominee Donald Trump, calling the presidential candidate’s positions and behavior unacceptable and even dangerous.
The Never Trump movement even has its own candidate: Evan McMullin, 40, a former CIA agent and chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, and a Mormon from Utah, a red state where Trump has consistently polled poorly. McMullin got a late start, announcing his candidacy in August and getting on only 11 states’ ballots, but in other states, he can be written in.
Earlier this month, McMullin announced his running mate, Jewish Texas native Mindy Finn, 35, a digital strategist who’s worked with the George W. Bush administration, former Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the Republican National Convention, Twitter and Google, and started her own feminist non-profit, Empowering Women.
“More than half of US voters are dissatisfied with the two major party candidates”
With Election Day approaching, and Americans in Israel rushing to mail in their ballots, Finn spoke to The Jerusalem Post
from the US on Tuesday, urging voters to go for the independent candidates.
“US voters have been very clear – more than half are dissatisfied with the two major party candidates, largely for their personal actions, not just policies, though policies come into play. They’re dissatisfied with [Democratic nominee Hillary] Clinton for the distrust she’s bred through her e-mail scandal in particular, using forces in government to cover up information for political purposes,” she said.
As for Trump, Finn said there are “a lot of reasons to oppose him. Most profound is that he is kind of a mini-dictator in his approach. He praises dictators constantly, like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-Un and Saddam Hussein.”
Finn warned that both candidates would take America in the wrong direction, but that Trump is particularly dangerous.
“We need a real alternative,” Finn argued, saying the McMullin-led ticket “believes in constitutional principles, like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, and equality. We believe the Republican Party has made a huge mistake in not making full-throated arguments against the racism and sexism that is aired out in Trump’s words and actions.”
Because of her and McMullin’s age and since they’ve never run for office before, they’re a “new generation of leadership” with “fresh ideas and a creative approach that has foundational constitutional principles underneath it,” Finn said.
McMullin is a long shot for the presidency, but his campaign has a Utah-focused strategy that even polling guru Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight site said could work – though it’s unlikely. As of this week, the ticket is in a statistical tie in Utah with Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and their path forward is based on winning the state.
Finn explained: “If everything continues as it is now, we will win Utah, which was always a goal, and deny Clinton and Trump the necessary 270 electoral votes. Neither would get a majority, [the top three electoral vote-getters would] go to the House, and the election would be determined there.”
However, the vice-presidential candidate admitted that Trump’s recent poor showing in the polls could make the strategy moot, if he loses other usually-red states to Clinton.
Even if the Utah strategy doesn’t pan out, Finn said, “it would be historic to get electoral votes and send a strong message about the type of leadership voters want for America.”
In fact, Finn predicted that after the election, the movement she and McMullin are leading will continue.
“We’ve tapped into a hunger and a desire for new leaders who are honest, wise and forthright and a new generation of leadership that has committed itself to individual liberty, and that’s not going to go away,” she stated. “Should Clinton become president, all the things that our movement dislikes about her will need a platform and a voice to stand up for what we believe in and participate in the public square. If Trump does or doesn’t become president, he will continue to have a platform and be out there in political life, so our movement is incredibly important.”“Peace will be difficult unless the Palestinians are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist”
When it comes to Israel and the Middle East, McMullin-Finn’s platform is fairly similar to Republican positions in recent years.
Finn called the ticket “extremely pro-Israel,” saying they “value the strong relationship we have with Israel as a strong democratic ally. That’s our position unequivocally.”
When it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Finn said their position differs from those of both Clinton and Trump. She put the onus on the Palestinians to show they’re interested in peace.
“We support Israel’s pursuit of peace, and we would like there to be peace. The terms are up to Israel to work out. We think it’s very difficult right now, unless the Palestinians are willing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. We would like them to get over that barrier,” she stated.
The Iran Deal, Finn said, was a bad one, calling that something the ticket has in common with Israel’s government.
“We are for continuing sanctions. We don’t think we should step away from that,” she said.
In Syria, the McMullin-Finn ticket calls for a more proactive strategy.
“We believe in a smart and prudent foreign policy, but one that follows through on our demands. If we make them, we have to back them up and be willing to use our military forces. That means providing aid to those on the ground who are our allies. We think there should be safe zones and we could use other military tools like radar to identify where the Russians are dropping bombs…Our strategy going forward is to address issues head-on, whereas now we have millions of refugees waiting to be resettled,” she stated.The Jewish factor: “Fighting religious persecution is in our DNA”
Finn called her Judaism an important part of her life, and she characterized herself and McMullin as “people of faith.” Their background has influenced their positions on individual liberty in general, and freedom of religion in particular.
“We have great concern about the rhetoric in this election that talks about banning whole religions and eliminating rights based on religious ability to practice,” she said, referring to Trump’s calls to ban Muslims from entering the US.
“We believe all men and women are created equal, and the only way for us to have a free society and for the great American experiment to exist with people of all religions and backgrounds is to recommit ourselves to the cause of individual liberty,” Finn declared.
As a Mormon and a Jew, McMullin and Finn “have being persecuted in our DNA, and we know what it means to be persecuted, even if it didn’t happen to us personally. Because of that, we are incredibly dedicated to the foundational constitutional principles of the US, democratic principles like free speech and First Amendment rights. We believe these things are God-given.”
In this election, like many Jewish Trump opponents, Finn has experienced antisemitism firsthand, particularly on social media, including threatening messages and images from the “alt-Right” and white supremacist movements that have declared their support for the Republican candidate.
Finn said racism, including antisemitism, has simmered under the surface in the US, but Trump’s rhetoric has created a climate in which such sentiments can be expressed more openly.
“These isms have been normalized in the public sphere. It’s not even specifically antisemitism; just the notion that you can discriminate based on race or religion has been normalized. I think it’s a real threat…and leaders who don’t stand up and denounce that kind of rhetoric are complicit,” Fin said.
Asked if she means Republicans who support Trump are complicit, as well, Finn first pointed out that Trump did not get the majority of GOP primary votes, just the plurality, but said the party has now given him a “more expansive and powerful platform to normalize racism, sexism, xenophobia and the like.”
“I’m very concerned that it will take a long time to walk that back. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing what we’re doing. It’s critical that Americans are willing to stand up and be counted and turn their back on the rhetoric and behavior that has become commonplace with Trump,” Finn stated.