Five months from a pivotal election, the United States is a country engulfed in protest, chaos, tear gas, pepper spray and flames.
In just a few months the world's superpower has lost more than 104,000 people to Covid-19 and 40 million jobs.
Now anger at yet another brutal death of a black American in police custody has spilled over into marches, violence and clashes with police.
The racial symbolism of a white Minneapolis police officer with his knee on the neck of a handcuffed and prone George Floyd was stark. Seething emotions normally held in check have boiled over. Many people are fed up and trying to be heard.
The protesters are an ethnically diverse crowd and that suggests an opportunity for new solutions. But the destruction also risks a backlash. Mixed in with protesters who care about the issues are people there to provoke, loot and ignite. More hardship has been heaped on shop owners and their employees trying to recover after coronavirus shutdowns.
Numerous elected officials are trying to urge protesters towards a milder and more strategic response. City and police officials are now more diverse than ever, yet America's racial problems are deep-seated and there is a palpable impatience with incremental change.
It is probably the darkest time for America since 1968 when, amid the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, riots rocked the country, and Richard Nixon was elected.
A statesman would seek to calm and reassure the nation while addressing the concerns about injustice. Instead in Donald Trump the US has an unconventional and divisive president who struggles with such tasks and is focused on boosting the economy enough to win a second term.
The President's average approval rating has been stable for three years, sliding between 38 and 44 per cent. Analysts say it needs to be about 47 per cent for Trump to be competitive in November.
A Washington Post average of national polls in May shows the Republican behind former Vice-President Joe Biden by 42 per cent to 49 per cent. The RealClearPolitics.com national average has the Democrat ahead by 5.3 per cent. Biden is also ahead on average in the battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona – all won by Trump in 2016.
Polls show Trump has a narrow advantage on who is better to manage the economy. Biden's biggest challenge is to tie the downturn to Trump with a message that incompetence and lack of leadership at the top have real impacts on people's lives.
Tactically, Trump is responding with what has worked for him before – deflecting, distracting, and dividing.
He has tried to deflect blame for the pandemic onto China and the World Health Organisation. He has stirred media battles and conspiracy theories. He has launched partisan attacks on Democratic governors and former President Barack Obama. He has encouraged supporters to agitate for states to reopen and turned the wearing of face masks into a divisive issue.
Could Trump turn the unrest to his advantage? His instinct is to heighten disputes rather than ease them and that attitude appeals to his base. Burnishing his law and order credentials could also attract some swing voters.
He has taken an aggressive stance against rioters, calling them "thugs" and tweeting "when the looting starts, the shooting starts".
The President's chief problem is that unlike in 2016, the pandemic, downturn and protests are happening on his watch.
He is the incumbent, the man meant to be in the middle, even though he often sounds as though he is watching from the sidelines.