As Republicans flock behind the president, they start to believe his exaggerations and misinformation. Soon, an initial concession of a few inches widens to an inescapable partisan trench. What was once an adopted position — a line pushed by the president — becomes a tribal truth. It’s the Ukrainians who meddled not the Russians. Separating children from parents and putting them in detention centers is an exaggerated liberal narrative. The real problem isn’t President Trump, it’s Hunter Biden. There’s no more dancing around these issues; now they stomp in unison.

Pragmatism, compromise and even ideological agility have always been part of politics. But what is happening now is dangerous. The rationalizers aren’t just turning against their own principles; many are turning against fundamental norms of democracy. The constant rationalization has made them unrecognizable. Unlike the Republicans who were Trumpian even before Donald Trump, the rationalizers have forgotten that what they now believe they once made up.