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Philosophically Speaking, Red State Independents/Liberals Are Lying To Themselves

Written By: Anton Sawyer

It’s incredibly important to have a set of core values when it comes to politics, especially for those running for public office … until it isn’t. Politics have always been about compromise, greasing palms, and finding ways to fund pet projects for your state—when we’re discussing those who keep our nation safe and running at the federal level. This has been going since a system of representation started to dot the landscape of the human experience. With that said, there are some cases where the label attached to a candidate or leader is so disingenuous when it comes to what their personal agendas (power) and voting record are concerned, that it’s hard to see them as anything other than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If these politicians were relegated to only impacting their states that would be one thing, but given their voting records will impact the nation as a whole, I feel it’s important to point these discrepancies out.

That’s what the topic of today’s article is going to focus on: the members of the Democratic and Independent political candidates/leaders of those living in red states, and how they are more concerned with getting votes than holding political positions which match with their chosen party. I can guarantee that two of the names here today will be immediately recognizable, while the third is a somewhat relative newcomer who almost ended ex-President Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations in 2016.

Before I begin breaking up each politician, I think it’s important to note that most of the information I’m basing these choices on is numerical specific. What this means is I wanted to look beyond the headlines and focus more on the voting record numbers and their overall weight on important party matters. Due to the sheer number of different matters that an elected official can vote on, it’s important to keep the context in mind. There’s a huge difference between voting on a new stamp versus cutting funding for a public program that could harm millions of Americans. Those will be examined as well.


In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.

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Joe Manchin

Rebecca Hammel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Rebecca Hammel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I wanted to get the easiest examples out of the way first when it came to those playing dress-up as liberals in a state with overwhelming conservative tendencies: the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin. Sure, he gets a beating in the press, but it’s for good reason. If you really don’t want to vote with a specific party a majority of the time, then either change your designation to independent or stop trying to affiliate yourself with those you have no interest in caucusing with.

West Virginia is incredibly red, and Manchin's voting so closely mirrors this fact that it’s almost comedic. Yes, per Project Five Thirty Eight, he’s voted with President Joe Biden 95.5% of the time during his tenure. But given the fact he voted with Trump 50.4% of the time during his tenure with the ex-President (per another Project Five Thiry Eight report), it’s hard to truly consider him a true-blue Dem. When you look at the kinds of legislation he’s joined Biden with supporting, it’s mostly of those that get majority support regardless—i.e., increasing the debt limit. And yes, he did also support Biden and the vote for providing money for transportation, utility, and environmental infrastructure (the environment is always a liberal cause). But when you look at the times he voted with Trump to enact legislation that had an overall negative impact on the environment—i.e., the repeal of an EPA rule on emissions—it’s kind of a wash.

I understand that the elected official is supposed to represent those who put them into office, and there’s an argument to be made that Manchin is doing just that. But again, we need to remember that what he does will also impact those who live in Topeka, Kansas. I believe he is one of those who runs under the heading of Democrat for those who have longstanding histories with being blue in West Virginia. But Manchin’s history is such that there is no way people would assume he’s a democrat without knowing beforehand.

Kyrsten Sinema

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons
Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

I know I’ve been hard on Kyrsten. I also know that I’ve written about her a time or two previously. But today isn’t about her turning her back on social policies that are often conjoined with liberal ideologies, but rather what do the actual numbers say about her time in the Senate?

If you look at just her numbers, she’s incredibly crafty. She was a representative in the House for many years, and it appears the time she spent there has served her well when it comes to the nuances of good deceptive practices. To be honest, my initial findings into her voting record blew my mind. Per Project Five Thirty Eight, Sinema has voted with Biden’s positions an astounding 97.7% of the time. Time and time again I saw the column with Biden’s position followed by Sinema’s matching exactly. And that’s why I say she’s so crafty, you have to look at what she’s voting with and against, and weigh that to the overall potential outcome of such votes.

What I noticed is that the times she went against the party’s platform, it was on issues that had far-reaching consequences, i.e. things like ending the filibuster. Ending the filibuster by and of itself would create a landslide of potential legislation to go through the democratically controlled House and Senate. Given that the things she agrees with Biden on—i.e., improving the US Postal Service’s finances, services and transparency—don’t hold the same amount of weight as those she opposes, it really is just a numbers game. It’s these little pieces of information that help bolster the notion that those who live in the state of Arizona are not truly a part of the democratic set of ideologies, but again want to either feel a sense of rebellion or that they view themselves as an independent. To be honest, given Sinema’s penchant for wearing rockin’ Levi-jean vests, I think it could be good old-fashioned rebellion … without the actual rebellion part.

Evan McMullin

Remember the dot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Remember the dot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I know you are asking yourself who this person is, and for good reason, as he’s never served in public office. But for some time during the 2016 Presidential election, he was seen as a serious threat to the Republican party and Trump taking the White House. Republican news pundits like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and others were dragging McMullin’s name through the mud in an attempt to sway Utah voters to not back him as he was an independent candidate and seen by many as a spoiler.

For about four months in 2016, the electoral map showed an incredibly close race between Clinton and Trump. So much so, that if Utah didn't vote for Trump then Clinton could have technically gotten the electoral votes needed. During this same time, an independent named Evan McMullin was able to not only get on the Utah ballot but was also overtaking Trump in many of the state polls. The reason why McMullin started gaining on Trump is that Utah has a severe allergy to supporting anyone who has the letter “D” next to their name, and McMullin shared many of the same beliefs held by a majority of the state’s voters (more on that in a minute).

Utahns like Mitt Romney and those of his religious ilk honestly could not stomach voting for Trump. Having lived there for a couple of decades showed me that though the Mormon faith is incredibly cult-like, their ferocity of devotion cannot be duplicated. Knowing that Trump had broken AT LEAST three of the Ten Commandments, they couldn’t vote him in as president. They also hated Clinton just as much. Enter McMullin … whose aspirations went pretty much nowhere. Once 2016 and 2020 passed, McMullin was an afterthought.

That was until he put in his bid to unseat GOP darling Senator Mike Lee of Utah in 2022.

When researching his specifics, I was able to come to one conclusion: McMullin and his ability to persuade those in a red state of being “radical” or “voting outside of the box” is the most egregious of all examples.

First off, when you go to his official site, you get a lot of generically-based platitudes about “It’s time to finally start improving care while lowering its financial burden by making sensible reforms including negotiating lower drug prices.” But there are no real specifics on how he’s going to accomplish anything or what he’s really about. For that, I went to the site On The Issues, which tracks the most recent and verifiable information on the nuance to each political candidate's position. You will find that McMullin is pro-life having said that subsidizing abortion undermines the dignity of mother and child. He believes in “traditional marriage.” He also opposes taxing the rich to help reduce student loan interest. There’s more, but at this point, it’s hard to imagine this guy being supported by anyone who isn’t conservative.

I was wrong.

Democrat Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson announced in early March 2022 that she is endorsing Evan McMullin in his bid to unseat two-term Republican Sen. Mike Lee. Not only that, Wilson called on Democratic state delegates to back McMullin as well. “When I first heard Evan was running, I was intrigued. I gave it some thought, and it was not a hard decision to back him,” she said, noting a Democrat hasn’t won a US Senate race in Utah for more than 50 years. “Democrats are not winning,” she noted. “I just think we need to do things differently as Democrats.”

Not only has this charlatan of independent ideologies nearly lost Trump the presidency in 2016, but he’s also duped the higher-profile Democrats of Utah. He’s doing this all while touting most conservative beliefs.

Final Thoughts

In each of the above cases, the red state politician has every one of their supporters fooled. Though there are a million different reasons why someone would vote for a political candidate, I believe that to these constituencies, there’s a shared feeling that they aren’t beholden to the prevailing political identity of the state, and perhaps there’s a sense of rebellion when it comes to supporting the liberal or independent mindset. I’m not sure, but the numbers and context behind them show that you can most definitely win as a “liberal” in a red state; just vote against your party on all the major issues while supporting them on the small stuff or that which helps ONLY your constituents.

Or, you know … have a moral core knowing that your actions won’t just impact those who put you into office locally?


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