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Living in a world of alternative facts

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

It doesn’t matter how many people attended Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony.

Really, it makes no difference at all. It won’t dictate the support he receives over the next four years. It won’t determine whether he’s a successful president. By next week, we will have likely forgotten all about this insane argument and moved on to the next one.

However, while the attendance numbers make no difference, the debate over the attendance numbers matters a lot.

To be honest, it scares the hell out of me.

Up until now, I have been convinced that 99 percent of political disagreements have been caused by deeply rooted political beliefs on both sides – beliefs that cause people to refuse to listen to reason and facts and instead choose the side that best supports their underlying political beliefs.

But those beliefs only influence people to a point. And that point has always been undeniable reality. Like when a picture makes it clear that one side is right and the other side is wrong.

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Now, it appears, there is a third option.

People are crazy.

I don’t say that lightly or flippantly. I’m not trying to make a joke to deflect frustration.

I say it sincerely: Some of y’all have lost your minds and you need to pull it together before it’s too late.

If you’ve viewed photos of the attendance at Trump’s inauguration side by side with photos of either of Obama’s inaugurations in 2009 and 2013, and you somehow believe the Trump attendance is higher, we need to have a little chat.

Remember the story of the Heavens Gate cult, in which 39 members committed mass suicide while all holding a roll of quarters so they could board the alien spaceship to heaven? Or how about all of the people who bought Hitler’s spiel? Or the ones who believe blessings and 72 virgins await suicide bombers?

This is the path you’re on.

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And it’s troubling.

Because at some point, the numbers the president of this country will ask you to believe will matter.

Like the number of casualties in a war he starts.

Or the number of dollars he’s received from deals that place the country at risk.

Exactly how much are you willing to believe? Or to dismiss?

Because it’s started already.

Late Sunday, Kellyann Conway, one of Trump’s advisors – just a few hours after coining the phrase “alternative facts” – revealed that the president has no intentions of turning over his tax returns.

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You remember those? They’re the tax returns he didn’t turn over during the campaign – the first major party candidate to fail to do so in recent history – and the ones he promised numerous times that he would turn over as soon as the audit of those returns was complete.

Now, Conway said Sunday, “the White House response is that he’s not going to turn over his tax returns.”

The reason, according to Conway: “People didn’t care” and elected him anyway.

Of course, he’s not working for just the people who elected him. He’s working for all of us now. And the majority of Americans – that’s right, the majority voted for someone else – want to know what’s hiding in those tax returns.

That is especially true considering the recent investigations and revelations of Trump’s ties to Russia. Given that, the American people are due some clear evidence that the country’s president isn’t financially compromised by a foreign government.

And let’s keep in mind that it’s evidence we should have anyway.

But I get the real sense that there’s a chunk of Americans who really don’t care about the tax returns. Or the ties to Russia. Or the lies about crowd size during a speech before intelligence officials.

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Instead, they seem willing to believe anything the emperor sells them based wholly on his word, even when those words contradict what their eyes can see.

And even worse, they aren’t just willing to say that the emperor has on clothes….

they actually believe he does.


Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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