In such a pitch-black prophesy, what’s the opposition to do?

Of course it still needs to try and win national elections. But if such efforts fail, one option would be for it to continue doing what it has for these past three years — allowing itself to be continually provoked into lashing out, living in a fantasy that voters can be persuaded to eject the ringmaster from his place at the center of the circus, and giving in to conspiracies to explain how we got here.

But there’s another way to respond — and that is to disconnect from the spectacle. Use America’s federalist system to circle the wagons, creating an archipelago of cities and suburbs that seek to govern themselves the way the country as a whole attempted to do through the middle decades of the 20th century: with a commitment to helping those less fortunate and protecting the vulnerable from harm, to bringing policy expertise to bear on solving common problems, and to building a system of public institutions that aspire to fairness for all.

This is really no solution and certainly nothing to romanticize. It would be a concession to our civic brokenness, a giving in to how divided we are as a polity, and how disinclined to find common ground.