She closed her computer.
“God put us in the desert,” she said. “We are in the desert right now.”
Later that night, she left her two-story house in the suburbs and headed to a church a mile outside of town. It was her place of comfort — the place where she always found an answer. She drove onto the church’s sprawling campus, past the children’s center, the volleyball courts and techno-lit recreation room for teenagers and parked in front of a small building. Then she walked up to the second floor to lead her weekly prayer group of 25 women.
It was a demographic that, in so many other places, would have voted for Obama: white women, college-educated and in their early-to-mid-20s, most of them upper-middle class. But here they had almost all voted for Romney, and they consoled each other as they entered the room. Cox joined them in the circle and bent her head in prayer.
“Yes, Lord,” she said. “We are saying yes to honoring you, but no to the junk of this world, to the wickedness, the self-gratification, the path that we are just saddened by. We choose your path, Lord.”
It was a path that had worked for her, providing strength and stability during her parents’ rocky divorce, and then helping her transform from a stubbornly independent woman — the “feminist, I-am-woman, hear-me-roar type,” she said — into a mother and a wife who respected what she called the “natural order of the household.” She had two beautiful daughters who earned A’s and a husband who took time off from his job as a pastor for annual family “playcations” to museums and amusement parks. Local Republicans were encouraging her to run for state office, but she didn’t want to give up her volunteering, her scrapbooking, her weekend getaways with her daughters — her “Godly life,” she said.
It was the same life she wanted for the women in this room — newly married, new to motherhood and beginning to sort out priorities of their own.
“The world will tell you to be so many things,” she advised them, and on this night she talked to them about the importance of preserving life, the sanctity of marriage, the advantages of raising children at home and the importance of “relying on family, and on your core values, and not on the government.”
“It’s not an easy road to be a Christian, and if it was, everybody would be on it,” she said. She passed out blank white note cards and asked each woman to write down a worry to surrender to God. Then, before closing, she asked what they wanted to pray for.
“Our president,” said one, and the women in the group nodded.
“Our values,” said another.
“All people in our country who are lost.”
“The soul of America.”
“Amen,” Cox said.
She came back into the Romney office again the next morning. The moving truck was waiting outside.
“It’s so depressing,” she said, walking into the office. “Let’s just get it done.”
They threw out yard signs, hauled office supplies into storage and donated some furniture to Goodwill. Cox swept the floor and then came outside to watch the mover climb on top of his trailer to take down the “Sumner County Republican Party” banner that had hung on the front of the building. Four months of dedication and work — the sale of 1,600 signs, 500 bracelets, 1,200 buttons and a few hundred hats — reduced to nothing in 48 hours.
She stood in the cold and stared at the two-story building. It had belonged to a doctor’s practice that had closed, and then to a newspaper that had downsized, and finally to a campaign that had failed to win office based on its vision of America.
She took out her phone and snapped a picture.
“So that’s it,” she said. “It’s all gone.”