It's the sort of question that, once raised, prompts a flood of ready opinion, the sort of deluge that reveals many of us having been asking ourselves this same thing.
The BBC's New York correspondent, Nick Bryant, has this on his mind also.
The new decade in American politics has started with a hangover that keeps on getting worse - a quickening of the downward democratic spiral we have witnessed over the past 30 years.
So much of what has gone awry has been resident in the trial of Donald Trump.
The partisan vitriol. The degradation of debate. The use of what were previously rarely used weapons - in this instance impeachment - to escalate America's ceaseless political war.
This sorry saga has offered yet more proof that, far from being an aberration, the Trump era is a culmination.
The hyperpartisanship of Republicans and Democrats has been evident in the party-line votes to impeach and acquit. The coarseness and ugliness of political discourse we have heard every day, which prompted the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Robert to tell both sides to dial back the rhetoric.Trump, the Constitutional Wrecking Ball.
Constantly it is remarked upon how Trump has departed from the norms of presidential behaviour, but one of the main effects of these past three years has been to destroy the shared sense of what those norms should be. As the impeachment trial underscored, Washington cannot even agree on what constitutes right and wrong. Following his acquittal, Donald Trump has claimed a Pyrrhic victory, but there is no doubt about the loser: the country he leads and has helped divide.
Trump's victory rally in the East Room of the White House the morning after his acquittal, where Republican jurors stood to applaud, may well come to be seen as a definitive moment - when the party of Reagan truly became the party of Trump. Senators from the Grand Old Party, the GOP, have now clicked on the terms and conditions of the Trump presidency after examining for three years the fine print. They have fallen into line. Many have become his spear-carriers. Striking, too, was how the Attorney General, William Barr, got up from his seat at the event to clap and salute Trump's legal team, suggesting the wall that should exist between prosecutors at the Justice Department and political operatives at the White House has been flattened.
The State of the Union address on Tuesday night showed how toxic the air in Washington has become, from the refusal of Donald Trump to shake Nancy Pelosi's hand ahead of his address to her ripping up of his speech afterwards. Never before have we seen such a breakdown of basic decorum, or, in modern times, the hatred it betrayed.
For me, though, the moment that encapsulated the era came when Trump awarded the presidential medal of freedom to the conservative radio host, Rush Limbaugh. The right-wing talk show host is a high priest of polarisation. Few conservatives have done more to pave the way for Donald Trump. With that primetime ceremonial, the president revealed the chronic state of America's disunion.
But the chaos of caucus night in Iowa has reminded us again of the country's democratic decay. Even the mechanics of democracy no longer seem to work any more, a problem highlighted in the disputed 2000 election that has not yet been fixed.
On Tuesday night, we witnessed American polarisation play out in real time. During the impeachment trial it often seemed that the very idea - and ideals - of America was on the stand.
A broken politics, a broken democracy, a broken country.