The sight of former president Bill Clinton wiping away tears of joy while standing silently behind his wife as she was making her victory speech in the 2000 Senate elections in New York may appear a little melodramatic for some. However, when one considers the sacrifices and extreme loyalty that Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton has shown to her husband over the previous 26 years, that gesture suddenly makes all the sense in world.
Secretary Clinton’s ascension to Senator, and thereafter, Secretary of State, is not something all that surprising for those that knew her, considering what a gifted child, student and political operative Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton was.
Born in Cook County and raised in suburban Park Ridge just outside of Chicago, Secretary Clinton grew up in a loving middle class family. Her early years were shaped by her Goldwater-Republican Navy veteran and business owner father and his tremendous work ethic, balanced against her mother’s Democratic leanings and harsh childhood.
At an age where young girls and boys were still too preoccupied with watching cartoons on TV, young Hillary was already busy demonstrating her leadership abilities and initiative with backyard carnivals and cookie and food drives for charity. When others her age were engrossed with the challenges of school and growing up, young Hillary was busy with the post-election canvassing of Chicago’s south side for the Republican Party. When children tread lightly around their parents and elders, she was engaged in delightfully spirited political debates with her family during dinner.
Her star continues to shine brightly at Wellesley, where her commencement address drew a seven-minute long standing ovation, and at Yale, where she was paid to intern at Washington every summer. She was already an experienced Democratic aide before even graduating from Yale, and was headhunted to be part of the Watergate impeachment inquiry team counseling House Democrats months after finishing college.
She was never a radical, beatnik or hippie, but neither was she a middle-of-the-road moderate. She is, above all, an idealist – an intelligent, disciplined, driven and practical idealist. Despite her image of a strong and uncompromising woman, people who she’s worked with reveal her to be a polite, considerate, consultative, and perhaps most surprisingly, religious individual. The latter perhaps is due to the influence of her mother and grandmother, both strong-willed Methodist women. She is also an exceptional public speaker, and can speak for an extended period of time without notes – done without pauses and filler syllables.
Over the years, many negative epithets have been used by the press and political opponents to describe her. As many have learned however, pigeonholing or underestimating Secretary Clinton often comes at a great cost.
The key to defeating Secretary Clinton lies in winning over her core support base - women, baby boomers and minorities. Meanwhile, her weakest demographic is the millennials, and this is clearly reflected in her underwhelming support online. And yet, one gets the impression that her opponents simply do not get this very simple equation. Will this prove costly in the end?
When acting convention chairman Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas pounded his gavel on the first day of the Republican National Convention last July to deny the motion of the anti-Trump coalition to include another name on the presidential roll call, people could be forgiven for thinking that the #NeverTrump movement has finally met its demise.
However, in the weeks following the convention, the movement seemed to have inexplicably gained a second lease of life. Little that anyone knows, Better for America, a privately-funded non-profit, has been working diligently behind the scenes to secure ballot access in various states for an alternative candidate to represent the classical conservatives of the Republican Party. And on August 8, 2016, the candidate finally arrived: David Evan McMullin, or better known as Evan McMullin.
The 40-year-old Utah native is a rather extraordinary choice. For one thing, he is not a politician (though a very well-connected staffer). For another, before wading into the world of politics, Mr. McMullin was a CIA spook, serving in undercover missions in the Middle East for ten years. Prior to that, right after obtaining an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, he was in Brazil serving as a Mormon missionary, and thereafter, in Jordan as a refugee resettlement officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Mr. McMullin, who also holds a B.A. in International Studies from Brigham Young University, spent two years as an executive in the investment banking division of Goldman Sachs before commencing on a political career on Capitol Hill as an adviser to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on national security issues. He was eventually promoted to Chief Policy Director of the House Republican Conference in 2015 – a position he resigned from immediately after announcing his candidacy.
In an open letter to the American public, Mr. McMullin stated that he could “no longer stand on the sidelines” and watch two “fundamentally unfit” candidates contesting for the presidency. As far as Libertarian Party’s candidate Gary Johnson is concerned, Mr. McMullin told the National Review that the former governor of New Mexico “doesn’t understand religious liberty” and “if he were president we’d have to drug-test him every four months.”
Despite the jubilant mood of the anti-Trump conservatives, Mr. McMullin faces a challenging task to make a mark in this election cycle. Getting his name on the ballots of enough states’ will be his biggest hurdle. The groundwork laid by Better for America will probably see him on the ballot of about a dozen states, but the filing deadlines for ballot access have already closed in over half of the states. There are speculations of him taking the litigation route to get his name on the closed ballots, but that option poses just too many hoops to jump through in such a short period of time.
Regardless, in states where his name will be on the ballot, Mr. McMullin will undoubtedly siphon a significant number of conservative and Republican votes away from Mr. Trump – and that will automatically make him the second biggest target for the Republican nominee. On the flip side, he might just end up to be Hillary Clinton’s most favorite person in the world.