Coronavirus cult: In President Trump they trust

“We have it totally under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Donald Trump, Jan. 22, 2020
“One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”

Donald Trump, Feb. 27, 2020
“Anybody that wants a test can get a test.”

Donald Trump, March 6, 2020
“No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”

Donald Trump, March 13, 2020
And yet, many of us still believe.

Meaning the ones who whine how the “fake news” is being mean to Trump when they call him to account for bungling the coronavirus pandemic. Meaning the ones who think the real illness is “Trump Derangement Syndrome”: An inability to appreciate the genius of a man who is, as presidents go, “the best one we’ve had,” quoth Joanne, a reader from Ohio.

As has often been argued in this space, reasoning with Trump believers is a waste of time. They lack the willingness and the capacity. But one still can’t help marveling at their ability, at this late date and with their lives on the line, to continue to deny the evidence of their senses.

Yes, we all deny reality sometimes; all of us are loath to change our minds even when the facts dictate that we should. That’s a human trait, not an ideological one.

But you always think there will come a moment of reckoning, a moment when even the most truth-phobic and logic-allergic will have to face reality. Where Trump is concerned, however, it turns out — apologies to “Porgy and Bess” — it ain’t necessarily so.

Consider that at this writing, there are 140,904 coronavirus cases in the United States, hospitals in New York City are bracing to be overrun, newly unemployed people are wondering how they will pay their rent and yet … and yet … Joanne from Ohio thinks he’s “the best one we’ve had.”

Not Lincoln, mind you. Not Washington, Jefferson, Reagan or either one of the Roosevelts. No, Trump.

Nor is Joanne the only one. Trump’s approval rating stands at 44.7%, according to the authoritative FiveThirtyEight blog — historically low, to be sure, but also astonishingly high, given the circumstances. And you want to ask them all, as Joseph Welch asked Joe McCarthy in 1954, “Have you no sense of decency? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
But that would be a waste of time. We know the answer already. They surrendered any claim to decency in their unwavering support of a man who daily debases us as a people, as a force for good. The issue is not his policies, odious as many of us consider them. After all, some people found George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s policies odious, too, yet they were able to attend the Kennedy Center Honors without controversy and athletes did not refuse to shake their hands. Trump daily debases us not because of what he legislates, but because of what he is: A mixture of bluster, egocentrism, ignorance, ineptitude and plain nastiness that now has led us smack into catastrophe.

Yet the people who still believe are sanguine. In Trump they trust.

Well, the rest of us better batten down the hatches and count the days till November. Because you cannot keep denying the truth, pledging allegiance to the lie, without incurring a price. If you don’t impose consequences — and we haven’t — then you’d better believe consequences will impose themselves. And sadly, they won’t discriminate between those who believed and those who did not. That’s the moral of this moment.

Karma is here and she’s in a foul mood.

LEONARD PITTS writes a column for The Miami Herald.