Preaching to the choir: Sean Hannity at the Republican National Convention, July 2016
Dina Litovsky / REDUX

It is a measure of the chaos of Donald Trump’s presidency that just months after the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, nobody in Washington seems to remember it. Congressional Republicans transitioned seamlessly from backing the president as he inflicted gratuitous harm on the economy in pursuit of his unpopular border wall to acquiescing as he declared a phony emergency to usurp Congress’ constitutional power of the purse. Now, they are back in their familiar role of defending his efforts to thwart an independent investigation into the links between his 2016 campaign and a hostile foreign power bent on subverting U.S. elections.

American governance, it seems, is in a bad way. But the crisis did not begin when Trump entered office. If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2016, Washington would hardly be humming along. Instead, it would be mired in a more intense version of the ruinous

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  • JACOB S. HACKER is Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies and Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science at Yale University.
  • PAUL PIERSON is Co-Director of the Successful Societies Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley.
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