The Women’s March in Washington DC, January 21, 2017

Brian Klaas writes for The Washington Post:

Do you vote according to your wallet, or your values?

The Trump Presidency is a horrifying natural experiment for just this question. On the one hand, even though President Trump exaggerates the case, the economy is growing. Stocks are high, and unemployment is low. On the other hand, there has never been an American president who violates every foundational value of our society the way Trump does.

In a society founded on principles of religious liberty, he called to ban Muslims from entering the United States. In a society that claims to reject racism, Trump is a bigot who praises those who march alongside Klansmen and neo-Nazis. In a society that claims to reject sexism, he is a sexist who has boasted about committing sexual assault. And in a society that claims to reject bullying, lying and callousness toward the worst off, Trump is a walking master class in all three.

But it’s not just that Trump violates our collective values. He also attacks the very institutions of our democracy. He is politicizing the rule of law. He has committed clear abuses of power and sneers at efforts to hold him accountable. He undermines the freedom of the press with threats and intimidation. He is precisely what our Founding Fathers warned us about — the reason they put checks and balances in place.

As never before in American history, voters face some disturbingly straightforward questions as they head to the ballot box this November. What’s the price of your values? Would you sell our democracy? And what abuses are you willing to accept so long as your stock portfolio grows? So far, the answers aren’t reassuring.

Between now and November, Trump will continue to betray American values as he has for the past three years. He will spread unhinged conspiracy theories. He will lie dozens of times per day. He will continue his calls to investigate or jail political opponents because they are his rivals. He will engage in corruption and self-dealing, using public office for private enrichment.

If all Americans were actually willing to vote according to their values, Trump’s candidacy would already be dead. But here’s the unfortunate truth: We are a country full of millions of people who are willing to look the other way and abandon our values so long as the stock market goes up, our 401(k)s soar and the economy shows no sign of slowing down.

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