On Nov. 7, thousands of Alabamians voted in their perceived self-interests and against their real self-interests as they have done so many times before.
This time, they were joined by millions of other Americans. I respect my friends, neighbors, colleagues, students and fellow citizens, but I do not and cannot respect the vote they cast this time. Trump voters must be treated as adults and held accountable for what they chose to overlook or failed to verify in order to vote for their candidate.
Here is only a partial list. Their choice, Donald Trump, mocked a disabled reporter; disrespected women; advocated torture as a tactic against United States enemies; asserted that Sen. John McCain, a survivor of enemy torture, is not a war hero “because he was captured,” feuded with and disrespected the parents of a Bronze Star Medal soldier; appealed to racist and xenophobic tendencies by claiming falsely that “thousands and thousands” of Arabs cheered as the World Trade Center came down on 9/11; said that an Indiana judge couldn’t judge his case fairly because the judge was of Hispanic heritage; called on Russia to hack into American emails and then was skeptical that they did it; and assailed anyone who disagreed with him with ugly schoolyard names.
Trump and his supporters are not necessarily racist, but they are less anti-racist and more mean spirited than me and the majority of Americans.
Mr. Trump’s actions, statements and ethical views are those of an egotistical braggart whose character runs counter to our basic American values, and his election indicates that many of our citizens have lost their moral compass.
An equally disturbing possibility is that perhaps many Trump voters didn’t view these events as factual and/or blindly accepted a false reality. Perhaps they accepted Facebook posts and reposts and Tweets and re-Tweets as reality without bothering to verify them. Fact checkers during the election campaign found that Donald Trump lied more than 70 percent of the time, but if a voter doesn’t accept facts or else accepts fake facts and lies, it doesn’t matter to him/her. Now, Mr. Trump’s supporters and advisers are saying that his Twitter feeds shouldn’t be taken literally. Of course, this is nonsense.
Beginning with the fabricated story that Barack Obama was not a citizen, Mr. Trump has been a serial liar, and now a Liar-in-Chief has been inaugurated. If an informed citizenry is essential to the survival of democracy, we are now seeing that a misinformed citizenry is even worse than an uninformed one.
Mr. Trump has shown that disregard for the truth and creation of a false reality can get you elected to the highest office in the world, and now he has continued to lie daily since his election. Unfortunately, a price will be paid. Documented news stories, facts and scientific theories are stubborn things; they don’t care whether you believe them or not.
Whether you accept gravitational theory or not, an apple can fall on your head. Whether you believe in evolution or not, bacteria evolve and become more antibiotic resistant. Whether you accept climate change or not, fossil fuels increase atmospheric carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide does absorb infrared radiation, and the global temperature is increasing.
A significant minority of our voting population has now ignored facts or failed to debunk a false reality and forsaken their morality to their own peril. Regrettably, they have imperiled the rest of us, the majority, as well. I implore them to turn back now, to the foundational values of the U.S, before it’s too late.
Bruce Gladden is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University.