KSL News: Democracy essential for problem-solving, Evan McMullin says during rally with Rep. Kinzinger
Senate candidate Evan McMullin said preserving a functioning democracy is essential to solving economic, environmental and social problems during a virtual rally hosted by Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger on Thursday.
The rally was sponsored by Country First, a political action committee founded by Kinzinger, who is one of two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Country First has endorsed politicians on both sides of the aisle who it says "put country over party" — McMullin among them.
Citing his experience in the CIA before entering politics, McMullin said he's used to working with people of different backgrounds and beliefs to focus on what's best for the country. As an agent, he said, he never worried about the politics of his fellow operatives, he trusted they were all working toward the same goal.
"For us, it was enough to know that we were committed to our core ideals that we're created free and equal," he said. "And therefore, we have a system of self-government set forth by the Constitution — a democratic republic — in which we select our leaders and they remain accountable to us and when we vote them out of office, they go and they go peacefully."
Kinzinger said the upcoming midterms are the most important elections of his lifetime, and asked voters to be willing to put divisions aside and vote for the candidates that are most willing to uphold democracy.
"This is a unique moment and can really send a strong message," Kinzinger said, where Republicans, Democrats and independent voters can create "uncomfortable alliances to defend democracy because that's important."
"That's the moment we're in," he continued. "I wish we weren't ... it would be great to be able to have the luxury to once again simply disagree on policy."
Kinzinger was in Salt Lake City last week to campaign for McMullin, where he told supporters he hopes his work on the Jan. 6 committee will protect the nation in the future.
McMullin and Kinzinger were joined Thursday by several other activists, including Michael Fanone, a former Washington, D.C. police officer who was beaten by a mob and suffered a heart attack during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Fanone described his experience during the attack, saying he "encountered some of the most brutal hand-to-hand combat of my entire policing career." He said he suffered a traumatic brain injury in addition to the heart attack, and said he has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Fanone said he's passionate about "a whole host of issues," but none of them is more important than democracy.
"We live in a very diverse country, and that's one of the things that makes this country great," he said. "And respecting the fact that other people may have a difference of opinion is really the foundation of what this country is all about: civil discourse when it comes to our political disagreements or our policy disagreements. That being said, what we're experiencing right now is not civil discourse over policy disagreements. It's violent discourse over two alternate realities."
McMullin acknowledged that voters are concerned with a variety of issues that are top of mind — including inflation, drought and the economy — but said it will be much harder to solve them if elected officials don't respect the will of the voters.
"When we're so divided, we can't lower inflation, we can't lower health care costs," he said. "We can't solve major challenges. We're in a huge drought out here in the West, we're not going to overcome huge environmental challenges and live up to our responsibility of stewardship for the environment if we don't have a democracy. It just won't work."
With less than two weeks to go before the election, McMullin and incumbent Sen. Mike Lee are locked in one of the tightest statewide races in recent memory. A recent Deseret News/ Hinckley Institute of Politics survey shows Lee has a 4-point edge over McMullin, although each candidate's internal polling shows them ahead.
Lee's campaign says its poll shows the senator with a double-digit lead, while McMullin says his campaign's surveys have him in front.
On Thursday, RealClearPolitics shifted its forecast in McMullin's favor, moving it from "Likely GOP" to "Leans GOP." However, FiveThirtyEight's election model has Lee as "clearly favored," giving the incumbent 95 in 100 odds of winning reelection.
By Bridger Beal-Cvetko
The full article can be found on KSL News' website here.