President Trump made 29 claims that were false, misleading or flip-flops between his two rallies. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

A large segment of Republican voters should try turning off Fox News and allowing reality to permeate the shell they’ve constructed to keep out ideas that interfere with their prejudices and abject ignorance. Unfair? Take a look at the latest poll to suggest that Trump voters like their cult hero feel compelled to label inconvenient facts “fake news.” Morning Consult reporters: “A plurality of Republicans say President Donald Trump received more of the popular vote in 2016 than his Democratic rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. According to a new Morning Consult/POLITICO poll, 47 percent of Republican voters said Trump outpaced Clinton — despite her nearly 2.9 million-vote advantage after all the states certified their election results.”

Perhaps they believe President Trump’s fallacious assertion that 3 million to 5 million illegal voters put Clinton over the top in the popular vote. Maybe they never grasped that Trump lost the popular vote. But this is embarrassing, shocking even. The report continues:

Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American, said in an email Tuesday that Trump has “perfected the technique of the Big Lie” — which, as he wrote in an op-ed last fall, is to “repeat a lie loudly, over and over until people come to believe it.”

“These results show that again that like ‘Birtherism,’ which launched Trump’s political career, the Big Lie continues to work, at least among those who want to believe it,” noted Lichtman, a professor who won professional acclaim last year after correctly predicting Trump’s victory.

If these voters do not know or cannot accept something as simple as vote totals, do we really expect they will be amenable to reason on immigration (sorry, but illegal immigrants aren’t causing a crime wave), global warning (sorry, it’s not a hoax) or uncontroverted evidence of Russian meddling in the election? I’m sure all this makes the Trump staff and surrogates laugh uproariously as they admire their handiwork in bamboozling the angry mob. But they and the network of right-wing enablers have done real damage to our society and politics, making differences impossible to bridge and reasoned debate nearly impossible.

Trump, as Kellyanne Conway tells us, does not think he is lying when he tells us demonstrably false things. What does that say of his mental fitness and the lack of responsibility of those around him in encouraging him to operate in a parallel reality?

And here’s where the executives at Fox News, the “serious” conservative media, elected GOP officials and even self-identified conservative pundits need to be held to account. They know much of the rubric of the Trump cult is absolutely false, yet they repeat, propagate or just tolerate it. It’s a game in which the only rule is to beat “liberal elites” or run a successful money-making operation where gullible donors can be fleeced with an appeal to stop perceived enemies (i.e., those who won’t drink the Kool-Aid).

Democracy presupposes a minimally informed, responsible adult electorate. Right now it is clear the GOP is dominated by fact-deniers and willfully ignorant folk. Whether they got that way because sleazy politicians conned them and Fox News lulled them into a stupor or whether spineless pols are simply filling a niche remains a matter of debate. But here’s the thing: The rest of the country should empathize with their economic plight and sense of alienation, but that does not mean we should coddle them in their ignorance nor defer to judgments based on fabrication. They feel “disrespected” when fellow Americans point to reality? Trumpkins think elites are condescending when they call them “low information” voters? (It should be non-information voters.) Sorry, economic hardship does not bestow moral authority to lie, invent facts, smear opponents, blame foreigners or support lawlessness. And for elected Republicans to defer to the ignorant, beguiled voters is an abdication of their role and oaths.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) bellowed at his colleagues to “stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet.” Here’s a better idea: Stop deferring to a horde of know-nothings.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called for more senators to reach across the aisle and be less concerned with winning on July 25. "Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet," he said. "To hell with them!" (U.S. Senate)