Sometimes things happen in a short timespan that few (if any) people would have expected, in ways that have far-reaching implications for society. Evan McMullin's candidacy is one of those things.

I voted for Trump in California, where the surplus of Hillary Clinton votes basically nullifies any effect my vote might have had, rendering it more of a protest vote than anything else. Indeed, in California, voting for anyone other than Clinton as a presidential candidate is a protest vote because of the number of Obamabots here.

Yet we are now seeing the very real possibility that McMullin could take Utah and deadlock the electoral college. In a CNBC article posted on October 19, 2016, McMullin is shown as being ahead of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in Utah. In a previous post in this forum I remarked that "McMullin (could) either be very close to Trump and Clinton in Utah and may even pull ahead of both of them, in that state," but at that time I was guessing about what could occur if Johnson or Trump were to decline somewhat in Utah. It seems that this has indeed happened and McMullin is now very much for real. So far, Johnson has not pulled ahead of Trump or Clinton in New Mexico, and Johnson is underperforming in New Mexico as of October 25, 2016, so it seems as though Johnson does not have much of a chance to stop Clinton or Trump from getting to 270 electoral votes. However, McMullin does (in Utah).

Even before McMullin pulled ahead in Utah, author Benjamin Morris at blog FiveThirtyEight surmised that it would be possible for McMullin to win Utah and the presidency. Bloomberg View published, on Oct. 25, 2016, a thought-provoking article titled, "I Saw the Future of Politics at an Evan McMullin Rally," describing a McMullin rally in Idaho and the author's thoughts on the implications of the resurgence of independent candidates in American politics.

McMullin's views on the Second Amendment are clearly outlined on his campaign website, in which he attempts to distinguish himself strictly from other candidates on the issue by making an ardent defense of the Second Amendment. Unfortunately, he also falls prey to the "watchlist effect," favoring the use of watchlists to restrict gun rights, where such watchlists have previously been rendered unconstitutional by a court. So it would seem that the only check on a Trump, Clinton, or McMullin presidency on this issue would be continued vigilance in the courts, as has occurred in the past.

What would happen, actually, if McMullin were to win Utah? Very likely, what would occur is that neither Trump nor Clinton would have the magic 270 electoral votes, and in that situation, the 12th Amendment dictates that the top three presidential vote-getters’ names are sent to the incoming House, with each state delegation getting one vote. The top two electoral-vote-receiving vice presidential candidates are sent to the Senate.

The FiveThirtyEight blog describes in detail what might happen next in that circumstance where neither Trump nor Clinton get 270 and the top three presidential vote-getters are sent to the incoming House:

"So let’s say the Democrats pick up a couple of states in the election, while Utah and Nevada go for McMullin and persuade a few other Republican states to join them right away, such that the breakdowns goes something like – with 26 needed to win — 19 delegations for Clinton, 23 for Trump and eight for McMullin.

Now what? Unlike the Electoral College, the House doesn’t just give up — they get to keep going until Inauguration Day. At that point, if the House delegations are still deadlocked, the vice president becomes president."

So it's possible that McMullin or Trump could become president by decision of the House. But if the House is deadlocked on the issue, then whoever is vice president as determined by the Senate in this scenario would become President, which would mean Kaine or Pence.

What does this all really mean?

An independent, who has been running for president for 11 weeks and who hasn't even raised a million dollars, is gaining serious enough interest of Americans to where he could end up swaying the outcome of the election and potentially becoming president.

An even larger observation is: Independents are on the rise again in American politics, and the implications of this are profound. Some comparisons could be made to Trump, but an increasing number of people running for office may well decide to abandon association with a party entirely (departing from Trump's model of becoming a Republican candidate) and take their chances as an independent (as McMullin did). This departure from the party model may be one of the best ways we have, at least within the standard political and voting cycles, to break free of much of the corruption and old ways of the parties, while providing opportunity for greater diversity of American thought and protection of rights in the context of elections.