Williamson’s moment may have been the most important of the entire debate. She tapped into one of the central questions of modern American politics. Is it possible for any politician to reverse this cycle of mutual enmity and disgust? In fact, negative polarization is so profound that easing this mutual enmity and distrust should be a priority of national leadership.

Williamson is not going to be president of the United States, and the Google searches of her name reflect not just inspiration at her words but also curiosity about her undeniably eccentric manner and beliefs. But in her quirky way she tapped into something real. There is, in fact, something dark lurking in American civil society, and all the wonks and all the plans in either party won’t purge that darkness so long as stoking partisan fury is seen as the most expedient path to power.