Jobs continued to bleed out of the country, and after Trump cut taxes on corporations and the rich, he didn’t care that those corporations bought back stock and lavished bonuses on their executives instead of raising worker salaries and investing in new production.

Ironically, all this may be why he was exactly what we needed. Because it wasn’t just Hillary Clinton who missed how angry Americans had become. With the exception of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, everyone missed it. And missed it big: missed the opioid epidemic, the deaths of despair, the disintegration of families and the local institutions that had supported them.

It took Donald Trump to give one last shove to our societal infrastructure before its rotten foundations started to collapse. And what was revealed was not just that America didn’t work anymore, but that the people at the top—the lawmakers and the wealthy who patronized them—either didn’t know or care that it didn’t work. They were utterly insulated from its not-working because capitalism had long since morphed into something that insulated them, something ugly and toxic: oligarchy…

Maybe all the pain and division and loss and fear of these kidney-stone-excruciating years brought us an opportunity for insight and actual change. Maybe we had to see all this barely-beneath-the-surface hideousness in such undeniable fashion to make sure none of us would be willing to go back to the way things were before.