Opinion

Renée Graham

Trump supporters still standing by their man

President Trump spoke March 15 during a rally in Nashville, Tenn.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images/File

President Trump spoke March 15 during a rally in Nashville, Tenn.

President Donald Trump’s supporters remind me of a guy who, despite all advice to the contrary, gets a terrible tattoo but will never admit that the blob covering half of his face was not a great idea. Then again, maybe he really enjoys having a misshapen rat on his cheek.

Nearly 100 days into this disaster movie of a presidency, 96 percent of those who voted for Trump say they would do it again, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll. Astonishing numbers, but hardly surprising. That wave of buyer’s remorse that many schadenfreude-hungry Democrats expected hasn’t come to fruition, and it’s entirely possible it never will.

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For Trump’s staunchest supporters — and that would appear to be the vast majority of them — their president’s historically low approval rating means nothing. They are unfazed by a calamitous, ethics-free administration that’s threatening democracy, unnerving the world, and treating our Constitution like a doormat.

When Trump says North Korea’s “gotta behave,” his backers hear decisiveness and might, even as his cartoonish bluster may inch us closer to catastrophe. Though he vowed to repeal Obamacare “on day one,” Trumpcare, his odious replacement, was yanked before it even reached the House. Claiming Mexico would pay for a border wall was one of Trump’s money lines on the campaign; now he’s trying to coerce Congress into coughing up a down payment.

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The man who declared, “I alone can fix it,” is fixing nothing, and his supporters couldn’t care less.

Somehow, the same folks so concerned that four more years of Democratic leadership in the White House would bleed them dry aren’t concerned that Trump has turned all of us into his personal ATM — Always Taxpayers’ Money. His supporters ignore suspect connections to the Kremlin and hidden tax returns. He’s turned the presidency into a kind of cheap performance art, mostly delivered 140 characters at a time. Trump’s supporters are ride-or-die because he’s giving them exactly what they voted for — political anarchy.

Trump devotees wanted someone with less political experience than a high school student body president, a man who would keep as many nonwhites as possible out of the country, even if that means wrecking families, pushing out unconstitutional travel bans, and punishing those whose only crime is seeking a better life. They expected Trump to stock his Cabinet with people possessing more nerve than common sense or humanity. Trump has sowed chaos, disruption, and xenophobia, which is what they voted for. Why would they desert him?

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In his election night speech, Trump said, “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.” He’s never bothered, caring only about those who care about him — and what he really cares about is their backing, not their concerns. His numbers among Democrats are abysmal, and he’s losing support with independents. Most new presidents usually receive a grace period, but Trump is such an alienating figure that the only prominent reaction from his opponents has been protest and resistance.

That’s why Trump will continue to play to his base at the expense of everyone else — it’s all he has. He’s scheduled to speak Friday at the NRA’s annual convention, in Atlanta. On Saturday, his 100th day in office, he’ll host yet another rally, this one in Harrisburg, Penn. He’ll bask in the anxious love of supporters who know that recognizing his failure as president is to admit their mistake in voting for him, and they won’t do that. For Trump and his true believers, it is a perverse delusion that blind adoration will be enough to stave off the botched policy decisions, mounting calls for impeachment, and the unshakable reality of a hapless, toxic presidency in free fall.

Renée Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham
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