When the other memoirs come out—and they will—Michael Wolff’s book will feel tame. Just imagine how serious people around Donald Trump, like General H.R. McMaster, or General John Kelly, or former Goldman chief Gary Cohn, or even Jeff Sessions feel about the idiocy of Trump, and the stories they have to tell?

The great disgrace of the Republican Party is to deny the appalling reality (or unreality) that is Donald Trump, and to indulge his lunatic behavior because he can be used for their ends—the gutting of regulations, the cutting of taxes, the savaging of workers’ wages and social supports. Even worse, the trampling of democracy itself.

By now, Republicans should have concluded that the king is mad, a chronic liar, and an infantile personality; that catastrophic consequences could easily result. That they did not pursue impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment is to their eternal shame.

One would like to believe that some divine or human retribution is the inevitable result—the collapse of the Republican Party or a massive wave of voter revulsion against corporate elites and the governing coalition. But this is not how history works. Democracies fail. Dictators govern for a long time.

Absent a lot of hard work and a good dose of luck, it is just as likely that the U.S. will descend deeper into corruption and oligarchy. Alternatively, voters could rise up against both Trump and Republican corporate Trumpism. Or they could just remain mired in cynicism.

The results of the 2017 elections in Virginia, Alabama, and elsewhere, plus Trump’s continuing pratfalls, give some cause for guarded optimism. But the election of 2020, and the run-up in the congressional midterm election of 2018, will be the most momentous since the fateful election of 1860.

That election, won by Abraham Lincoln, came in the wake of the collapse of the Whig Party, and very nearly sundered the American Union. In 2018 and 2020, either we will begin the long and painful process of healing American democracy, or our liberties could be irrevocably lost.