I have been obsessed for some time with how democracies fail. So far as I can tell, it happens when they become so polarized that rival factions lose respect for democratic norms and only want to prevail, through fair means or foul. I became obsessed with this subject because I did not like the direction of our democracy and feared for its future. For some time, I asked myself what I feared. Traditionally, democracies fall one of four ways -- fascist subversion by elective leaders, military coup, civil war, or conquest by a foreign power made easier by internal division. None of these seemed in the cards for us, so I kept asking myself what did I fear.
My conclusion was that I feared us becoming like California, with a government so dysfunctional as to be non-functional. During the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, I believed we had finally hit it. But now -- well, let us just say I no longer wonder what it is I fear. It has happened.