Republican Senator Ben Sasse has written an open letter to America. I agree with a great deal of it, but I wanted to take issue with something.

Here’s an excerpt:

In the history of polling, we’ve basically never had a candidate viewed negatively by half of the electorate. This year, we have two. In fact, we now have the two most unpopular candidates ever – Hillary by a little, and Trump by miles (including now 3 out of 4 women – who vote more and influence more votes than men). There are dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two “leaders.”

With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in. Heads, they win; tails, you lose. Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger. That’s what we do.

Remember: our Founders didn’t want entrenched political parties. So why should we accept this terrible choice?

Sasse goes on to suggest a non-Trump non-Hillary candidate (not himself, by the way), but he doesn’t say who that person should be.

I like the idea, but being unable (or unwilling) to name such a person is one of the problems. If one such person existed—if there was that much consensus between/among the factions in America today—that person would probably be running for president already, and succeeding. But the war between the parties, and the abominable choices we face, represent factions of Americans (not just parties) that are in ideological war with each other. The people’s elected representatives in Congress are reflections of a very real impasse, and it’s not just between two groups, it’s among many. Compromise? Compromise has been shunned and rejected by the voters, too, as representatives who are too moderate are driven from office.

I’m not saying it’s good or bad, I’m just pointing out that I don’t see a moderate electorate right now.

The other thing I want to point out is that Trump and Clinton have differing amounts of support from their respective party movers and shakers. Imagine, if you will, those smoke-filled rooms of yesteryear, composed of party leaders choosing their standard bearers with little or no input from voter primaries. Does anyone for a single moment believe that Donald Trump would have been the GOP choice under such conditions? I thought not. But Hillary Clinton would almost certainly have been the choice of the Democrats.

In other words, Clinton expresses the wishes of the leaders of her party, and Trump (who may not even really be “of” his party) does not appear to express the wishes of the leaders of the GOP. Of course, many people find that latter situation a feature rather than a bug.

What’s more—although I’m having trouble finding exact figures on this—Hillary Clinton also represents the choice of the majority of voters who have bothered to vote in the Democratic primaries, and Donald Trump does not represent the same for GOP voters. So even if the support for Hillary among Democrats is lukewarm, we can probably conclude that she is liked by more of her party’s voters than Trump is by his (although his actual supporters are often very excited about him and quite fervent in their support).

In sum, whoever Hillary is and whatever she is proposing to do is more in line with the wishes and principles of her own party than Donald Trump is in line with his. He is the protest candidate, the hostile-takeover candidate, and he is leading in spite of the party leadership—or, rather, in reaction to their perceived myriad failings—rather than because the party leaders would choose him as their nominee.

That is their dilemma. If they fall in with him and get on board, they are committing a form of suicide. And if they oppose him they’re doing the same thing (at least in the short term). This is most definitely not the dilemma the Democratic leaders face.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

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