“There are Dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two ‘leaders,’ ” he wrote in a Facebook post in which he predicted the imminent breakup of both parties. He was harsher on Trump. Everywhere he goes in Nebraska, Sasse told me, people ask him for advice. “People say: ‘I’m distraught. I’m opposed to everything Hillary Clinton stands for, and yet I think I have to vote for her. How do you make sense of this? What should I do?’ ” he said. “These are young evangelical women, teary sometimes. They say, ‘I can never tell my kids I voted for that man.’ ”I have also been thinking about evangelical women. During the last election I read a fascinating article about evangelical women, many of them stay-at-home moms, who threw themselves into volunteering for Romney and were devastated when he lost. They seemed to be supporting Romney mainly as a way of standing up for their own choices in life, and his defeat wounded them because the nation seemed to be passing judgment on those choices. But what will such a person do this time? Nobody could consider a Trump victory as an endorsement of putting religion and morality first, or a Hillary victory as an endorsement of godly motherhood.
I see two options: despair, or accept that maybe national politics really doesn't have much to do with the choices any of us make in life. I think it is a mistake to rely on a nationwide vote to validate your own identity. Other people just don't see the election the way you do, and their votes don't say anything one way or another about your own issues; you may think the election is a referendum on the place of Christianity in American life, but maybe I see it mainly as a matter of economic policy. If I were Ben Sasse, I would tell his worried constituents that it is ok to leave the presidential line blank if they can't support either candidate, but to show up anyway and vote for candidates they do support, and remember meanwhile that their spiritual lives should not depend so much on who happens to be president.