None of this has prevented cynical politicians and their counterparts in journalism or, on the other hand, a pseudonymous army of post-teenaged Xbox players with Twitter usernames like @constantinoplevictory343, from living out their dark fantasies of a world on the cusp of a return to the Middle Ages. It is easy to understand why the latter group likes to indulge in these games. It is simply an extension of what they are doing with the rest of their time. But everyone else? Perhaps the answer is that in an age in which wealth and leisure are, for a certain class, world-historically abundant and entertainment is a ubiquitous feature of life, all politics has become a form of role-playing.

I am not immune to this temptation. Part of me wishes that I could believe for even a moment that Trump is a Butlerian jihadist intent on ushering in a world or even universe-wide Dark Age with the power of the American sword. Such a fantastically remote contingency would be, at any rate, less boring than the normal business of government, with its perennial mind-numbing debates about rather boring, straightforward subjects, like the best means of providing American citizens with health care.