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Weston Kenney, Deseret News
Evan McMullin, who's running an independent bid for president, talks with the Deseret News and KSL editorial board in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016.

Editor's note: The Deseret News has asked the presidential candidates to share their views with our readers. We've published exclusive op-eds from Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. We are pleased to offer this exclusive op-ed from independant presidential candidate Evan McMullin.

One month ago, I launched a campaign for president of the United States. Our nation has been divided and adrift for too long under the leadership of parties and politicians who have placed their own interests above of those of the American people.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — the two most distrusted and disliked major party nominees in modern history — offer more of the same. They promote old ideas of unaccountable government and bigotry that divide us, make us less secure and weaken our economy. We urgently need a new generation of leaders who will serve the American people and unite our nation around liberty and tolerance for each other.

My service with the Central Intelligence Agency, experience in business and time as the House Republicans’ chief policy director has prepared me well to secure our country, energize our economy and make the federal government accountable to the American people once again.

Clinton and Trump are wholly unfit for this responsibility.

For many, this election has become about choosing the lesser of two evils. Parties and politicians have been selling us this lesser-of-evils argument for years, exploiting our fears and lowering our standards for them.

Our Founding Fathers risked their lives for this country, while many of our leaders today are unwilling to even risk their re-election or be criticized publicly to stand up for America. For them, self-interest comes before our national interest. The lesser-of-evils mindset weakens our role as citizens and has promoted too many such leaders, who have taken us down a path of division, insecurity and economic stagnation.

We are blessed to live in a land where our God-given rights are enshrined in our inspired Constitution. Yet even with these tremendous blessings, our future still depends upon our selection of honest and wise leaders. Our votes are worth far more than those who make the lesser-of-evils argument would lead us to believe.

Now more than ever, our votes show where we stand in the fight between good and evil in this world. Our votes are our voices, and if we do not embrace good and reject evil we cannot expect the blessings of good leadership.

Clinton is a deeply corrupt politician who puts her own quest for power above the interests of the American people. She believes she is unaccountable to us — a profound sign of disrespect for the people she would lead. She has a troubling habit of lying to the country, and has compromised our national security to conceal her corruption. She supports a massive, intrusive federal government in which insiders flourish and regular Americans’ voices are unheard as our nation races towards fiscal crisis.

Trump is temperamentally and philosophically dangerous to America. His cavalier disregard of the Constitution and his absurd policy ideas would threaten civil liberties while expanding government borrowing and spending at dangerous rates. His bigoted attacks on religious and racial minorities are designed to pit Americans against each other in a perverse effort to weaken us while empowering himself.

These are the tactics of the Third-World dictators he admires, and they pose a threat to American liberty previously unseen. His vulgarity, dishonesty and intolerance are now being imitated by millions, eroding our nation’s ideals and power. We know better than to support leaders with such characteristics.

Either a Clinton or a Trump presidency would likely do significant and lasting damage to our country.

After years of running for president, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson still has little chance of winning the Electoral College votes needed to stop them. His promotion of a drug culture in America, opposition to religious liberty, and reckless national security ideas have made him an unacceptable choice for most voters. His support has been capped in the single digits, and he appears to be pulling votes somewhat equally from Clinton and Trump.

I am running to give voters someone they can support proudly, while denying Clinton and Trump a victory. If neither win a majority of votes in the Electoral College, the U.S. House of Representatives will choose our next president from the top three finishers. At this late stage, I believe this is our best chance of electing a better leader for America. We will not need to compete in every state nor win a majority in the Electoral College, but we will need to win key states, while impacting the outcome in others.

Utah is key to this strategy. The Beehive State strongly rejected Trump and Clinton in the primaries this year, and I am calling on Utahns to lead again. It will not be easy, but it is a fight worth having and it can be successful with your active support.

The time has come for a new generation of leadership that will put the American people first and unite us in our shared love of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Securing this leadership will require us to stand up for what we know is right, and against what we know is not.

If we do, I believe our nation will be blessed with a more prosperous, secure and unified future.

Evan McMullin is an independent candidate for president of the United States.