In his letter to the editor, Professor Lawrence Mead says that someone who voted for owes half the country and the world an explanation for doing so. I am happy to oblige.

As with millions of voters, with my vote I affirmed my belief that the current president – a corrupt, indecent, and incompetent man with autocratic tendencies – is unfit for office and is a threat to the democratic principles of our constitutional republic.

He has used the power of his office to enrich himself and his family and promote his businesses. His list of lies and spread of disinformation is too extensive to elaborate. Particularly worrisome is his admiration and praise for dictators such as and Kim Jong-un, shamelessly discrediting his own intelligence agencies in front of an international audience while cozying up to Putin. His mishandling of the pandemic has caused much needless suffering. His ignorance of and lack of respect for science and scientists is appalling. Consider his abuses of power, obstruction of justice, attacks on the free press, attempts to silence his perceived enemies. He has sowed division in this country, not only refusing to condemn right wing domestic terrorist groups, but actively encouraging them. I could go on and on. The list of his serious offenses, by dint of sheer volume, is unprecedented. His latest, an attempt to undermine our free election system and a refusal to engage in a peaceful transition of power, is in my opinion his most egregious assault so far on democratic principles.

In short, this president is a thug and a con man who needed to be removed from office. Facts are stubborn things, so it’s difficult to comprehend why someone would vote for him. Eventually I’ve come to understand why otherwise intelligent people would do so. The answer lies in two words: cognitive dissonance, a theory penned in the 1950s by psychologist Leon Festinger. New York Times columnist Jennifer Senior aptly describes it as happening when “our brains go to baroque lengths – do magic tricks even – to preserve the integrity of our worldview, even when the facts inconveniently club us over the head with a two-by-four.”

Maryann McClain is a retired court reporter who lives in Hattiesburg.

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