How did it happen? We who lived through it, and allowed it, want to know.

The loss of democracy used to be something that happened to other people. We even thought it was our role, as the cornerstone of the democratic idea, to spread the gospel and blessings of democratic government to the rest of the world. We fought many of our wars, including the long struggle against communist totalitarianism, under the flag of democratic values. Now, it’s oh, never mind.

Who knows where we go after the Trump era ends? Maybe the damage will be fixable, and maybe it won’t. What we need to know now is that the Trump era is still waxing, and we are letting it happen. We are dancing the Trump Two-step with him. Do we enjoy his arms encircling us? His moist little hands sliding about our waist? His warm breath and nuzzle on our neck? The lacerations on our forehead from the leading edge of his hairsprayed chisel wedge of golden hair filaments? Apparently we do.

The footwork of the Trump Two-step is simple. Trump takes two steps forward and one back. We stumble and protest his pushy advances, but then relax and celebrate at his easing and apparent reasonableness. Rinse and repeat.

The most recent steps are his presidential pardons, which are laying out markers of a potential ruthless protection of himself from legal accountability.

They can’t really be interpreted any other way. And continue filling the landscape with the other markers he has laid. They all say the same thing: The State, it is I.

And then the backstep. Why, Trump has NO CURRENT PLAN to fire the special counsel! Whew. We can breathe again. The leather strap he is quietly encircling our neck with feels a bit looser today. Almost normal! Let’s continue to grade him on this ever-steepening curve. Let’s hope for the best! As our noose tightens.

We know where this dance is going. We are being backed gradually into submission and surrender. Two-one, two-one, two-one. And he’ll get us there too, if we don’t wake up and call a very different tune.