It seems, maybe, that President Donald Trump has abandoned his policy of separating children from their immigrant parents and warehousing them in detention facilities. But the conflict over the policy has been, among other things, starkly clarifying.

The cruelty, accompanied by the lies deployed to excuse it, further inflamed political passions and sharpened the divide between Republicans, who support the president, and Democrats, who detest him.

It feels as though another political Rubicon was crossed.

“I think we’re at the beginning of a soft civil war,” political scientist Thomas Schaller said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know if the country gets out of it whole.”