I think I learned more about the United States of America and its political systems between 2016 and 2020 than any other time in my life.
I admire and respect America - a huge country with huge power and potential but also with some pretty big problems.
I have only been there once. Thirty years ago, a year or so after the Rodney King riots, we spent 14 days in Los Angeles and San Diego doing the touristy thing with the kids.
It was a brilliant trip, everything we hoped for.
The bride's school-girl pen-friend and her husband met up with us on a few occasions, taking us around the shops and out to meals.
Lovely couple, we are still in contact. Our friends are Asian-Americans, she is of Singaporean descent and he Korean. But they are firstly Americans.
We ate at an Asian restaurant one night near Long Beach.
Two cops came in and sauntered up to the counter, all dressed in black, armed to the teeth.
Friendly? Not. Being a dumb Kiwi cop I gave them a wave and just got two filthy glares back.
I returned to mastering the chopsticks, thinking continued eye contact could be embarrassing for my hosts.
About two weeks previously the four police charged with offences arising out of Rodney King being severely beaten by police had all been acquitted by a jury.
Tensions were still a bit high after the verdict. There had been five days of rioting in LA. following the verdict.
I asked our hosts do they carry a weapon when out and about?
They did not but the husband said his brother never leaves home without being armed. Crazy.
These two cops got their feed and walked out, no money changed hands. I asked my host about that.
He said it's just what happens, the owner wants the police on her side. Free food will help.
Roll on 24 odd years and Donny Boy Trump somehow became President of that beautiful but complex nation.
He set the world on its head the way he conducted himself.
No previous president was so openly unstatesmanlike.
He reminded me of some sort of blond Mafioso don, with his slicked-back hairstyle, heavy coats and aggressive postures and walk.
A guy looking for a fight and scared of no one. In my experience a bully.
In the following four years I, like many of you, sat glued to the telly watching America slowly begin to tear itself apart.
We all got to see the inner workings of what, to me, is a complex and fascinating federal and state government apparatus.
Seeing states that are almost governed as stand-alone nations resenting any input from the Federal government.
Swathes of America that is strongly conservative, religious, the West Coast, the home of liberalism and progressive voters, the East Coast, the powerhouse of the nation - very traditional, where the USA was begun.
To me, as an outsider it was like there were at least three different Americas all trying to get their way, all competing and all suffering in some way or other.
That's without even touching on the racial divides that bedevil the country.
Trump saw this and played to the survivors of the industrial devastation of the Rust Belt, hope fading of ever achieving the American Dream.
He knew there was a lot of anger to be tapped into and he shamelessly did it, culminating in the closest the country came to failing that day in Washington, January 6, 2021.
Imagine if Mike Pence had not stood up to Trump and had declared the election in late 2020 null and void.
As I write this the US House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol is well under way and beginning to gather evidence of what happened that awful day.
None of us knows what the outcome of this investigation and several others will be. Time will tell.
The Republican/Democrat divide is wider than ever. We cannot compare it to any divide between New Zealand political parties.