In Utah the independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin - who only entered the race in August - is polling well enough to make both Democrats and Republicans sit up and take notice. He is now a real chance to win the State and, in a remote but still possible outcome, the White House. McMullin and his running mate Mindy Finn are already looking beyond 8 November. Last Friday the pair sat down to chat with the editorial board of Utah news organisations. Here's an excerpt from the newspaper's report of that meeting:

Independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin says he's not only in the race to win but also to start a new conservative movement that might or might not include the Republican Party.

"We are highly skeptical that the Republican Party will be able to make the reforms it needs to make in order to be a politically viable vehicle to the conservative movement," McMullin told the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards Friday.

Sometimes you almost have to pinch yourself to check we're not all part of a bad dream. At this point, three weeks out from the day America votes, neither of the Republican Presidential nominees from 2012 and 2008 (Mitt Romney and John McCain respectively) or the two most recent Republican presidents, George W Bush and his father, George H W Bush, are supporting the GOP nominee, Donald Trump. For his part, the 'unshackled' Trump is doubling down on his claim that if he doesn't win it will because the election is rigged (this in a nation where voter fraud is almost unheard of).

The Republican party machine has its hands full trying to keep the pro- and anti-Trump factions from tearing each other apart (and putting off voters in the process) before the election. The inter-party friction ratcheted up after the audio surfaced of Trump making lewd comments but a few weeks earlier, another swathe of Republicans came unstuck when Ted Cruz announced, finally, he would support Trump. [Fold]

Here's longtime Cruz supporter Michael van der Galien on PJmedia:

As co-founder of Ted Cruz 45, a grassroots movement on social media supporting him for president, I've seen many of my friends express their disillusionment with the Texas senator. Some friends -- loyal supporters of Cruz -- have announced they're taking a break from politics, while others have remarked that this is yet another disappointment this election season -- one they may not be able to overcome soon, if at all.

I understand these people. I sympathize with them. We all thought and hoped Cruz would be above party politics as usual. He even implied he was by refusing to endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention,

simply urging conservatives to vote their conscience. Yet, he has now caved. It's sad, it truly is.

Plenty of Cruz supporters are hoping their guy will be back for another try in 2020 and are contemplating writing his name in anyway this time around. Trump supporters argue there will be no GOP left if Hillary Clinton wins. Here's an example of this logic from Alicia Powe on American Freedom Fighters:

The fact is this: You vote Trump unless you want Hillary and all she stands for. You vote Trump or you can kiss the Republican Party goodbye.

You vote Trump if you don’t want to become part of a globalist world. You vote Trump if you want your country back.

But supporting Trump is exactly what the Republican party should not be doing, argues Josh Barro in this piece on Business Insider, titled: Why I left the Republican Party to become a Democrat:

The Republican Party had a fundamental vulnerability: Because of the fact-free environment so many of its voters live in, and because of the anti-Democrat hysteria that had been wilfully whipped up by so many of its politicians, it was possible for the party to be taken over by a fascist promising revenge.

And because there are only two major parties in the United States, and either of the parties’ nominees can become president, such a vulnerability in the Republican Party constitutes a vulnerability in our democracy.

Plenty of commentators like John Kass, writing in the Chicago Tribune, have moved from bemusement through to despair:

So this is where we are now, an uncertain people in a post-constitutional society. The establishment center is corrupt and has been collapsing for years. And the people, tired of their lies, become angry. And now anything goes.

A political realignment is coming, no matter how this election turns out, but that won't happen for a while. In the meantime, we wait, stunned, and in a few weeks we'll all become quite gamy. That's probably why Americans dream of taking a long, hot shower, to scrub our brains out with soap.

Photo:  Kena Betancur via Getty