It was during the Trump interregnum that I gained a fuller appreciation of the importance of the relative independence of the media and judicial system from the dictates of the political bloc in power, not to mention a more nuanced understanding of the role of the Democratic Party in our politics. Each in their own way were instrumental in bringing down Trump. In fact, it is fair to say in their absence Trump would be sending out his destructive, daily, and sometimes deadly rants from the White House and white nationalist, plutocratic authoritarianism or, maybe worse, would be riding roughshod over the “relative independence” of the institutions of our Republic as well as the rights and liberties of tens of millions.

It also caused me to reflect on my willingness to accept, even defend, their absence in the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries that went belly up 3 decades ago. In that era, I understood democracy in socialist society instrumentally, that is, subordinate to the “wisdom,” decisions, and power requirements of the “Marxist Leninist vanguard party” and mistook, perhaps conveniently, the formal representations of democratic governance and rights as actual ones.

Life is complicated, isn’t it.