Imagine, if you will, two epileptics trying to share a bowl of noodles and you will get a sense of how messy and unappetising the contest between Donald Trump, a Mussolini wannabe, and Hillary Clinton, a Nixon in a pantsuit, is going to be. (Actually, let me preemptively engage in America's favourite pastime and apologise to both epileptics and noodles. Doubtless, both would make more congenial dinner companions.) How on earth did we get here?
To start with, Trump and Clinton are not the beginning, but the continuation of the deterioration of American politics. That is not an uncommon development in mature, dare I say 'sclerotic', democracies. The Roman Republic gave way to the Principate of Augustus. The relatively competent Augustus was replaced by the degenerate Tiberius, then bloodthirsty Caligula and, after a brief Claudian intermission, insane Nero.