David Runciman has shown there is a significant, if as yet small, group of thinkers who see democracy in serious trouble. Certainly as unlikely to survive as long as hereditary kingship. In the American case the real weakness emerges behind all the antics of the Trump phase - the difficulty of ever reforming America's key institutions. Most pressing in the polarised conditions of the 21st century is the electoral college system for presidential elections, and a selection system for Supreme Court justices which effectively renders them political appointees.

The more so now America's religious conservatives have concluded their Faustian pact with an expressly amoral president to secure a conservative Supreme Court. Whether Trump himself is serious enough to be Mephistopheles or that role is allocated to the insurance companies is moot. But either way Mrs Amy Coney Barratt finds herself as the unlikely Marguerite. Probably as a charismatic Catholic God will save her soul. Perhaps even the souls of some evangelical voters might be saved from the damnation of Faust. But the souls of Trump and the insurance companies?

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