By GENE H. McINTYRE

Every American is free to accept and reject societal values. It is only when the expression of those values does harm to other Americans that the line of what’s lawful is crossed.  This aspect of human interaction is the difference between chaos and order.  Then, too, a society’s core values are what provides its youth  a means of emulating traditions, carrying them from one generation to the next, sustaining the Constitution that established America’s foundational values.

It was this very matter of values that alarmed this voter about candidate Donald J. Trump. During the 2016 campaign season we learned that Trump viewed most Mexicans as “rapists and drug dealers.”  He commented on John McCain as “not a war hero.” He said of Megyn Kelly’s questions during the first GOP debate that they resulted from a menstrual period. He said he witnessed 9/11 celebrations on the part of Muslims in America. He mocked a disabled reporter using wild gestures and guttural sounds. He owned a Trump University that took money from would-be students and pocketed that money without delivering any educational programs.  Then there was that despicable Access Hollywood tape where groping and objectifying women was glorified by Trump as his way of treating the opposite sex.

After Trump’s election, there have been a virtual avalanche of lies and exaggerations proven time after time to be untrue. One of the first lies had to do with the number of persons who watched his inauguration in Washington, D.C.  Then there was the lie about the number of persons behind the Electoral College count versus the actual number of votes for him and Hillary Clinton.Then there was the ongoing lie about the Trump-imagined number of illegal voters that have been determined by research to be about 30.  Then there was the proven-false wiretap accusation.  More recently the firing of the former FBI Director James Comey has resulted in contradictory explanations for the firing from Trump versus his spokespersons.  And this, that and the other go on and on and on.

Yet, according to polls, no matter what President Trump says or does, something between 35 to 40 percent of those Americans asked about him, still support him as apparently do most GOP members of Congress.   This leaves one to ask whether our nation is into a crisis in values where lying and exaggerating has become for many the standard for all interactions within and outside the nation.  Sadly, after the way firing Comey was handled, it appears we are on the verge of losing our way as a democracy with the Constitution trashed and the horrors of authoritarian rule by strong man dictatorship replacing it.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)