The chaotic scenes from the ornate Capitol building in Washington, DC last week seemed so out of character with a normally sedate US Congress, that it is hard to believe that they actually took place at all.
Despite our own colourful history of protest in or about Stormont itself, there was nothing that could compare with the invasion of Congress by thousands of angry Trump supporters.
Stormont's "brawl in the hall" some years ago is about as close as it gets and even that was a flash in the pan.
But while we can mock the normally sober American political system for being so out of character, this embarrassing episode is extremely serious, as this futile exercise was carried out by a deeply alienated segment of American society that believes that American democracy has been subverted and that it needs to be rescued in some way.
Watching those scenes from Washington, lines from Yeats's poem The Second Coming spring forcefully to mind: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold."
However, we do not need an invasion of Stormont by Trump-like protesters to highlight the evident dysfunction of our own politics.
The public watching a quarrelsome and sharply divided Stormont, have become depressed and demoralised. Things are falling apart and the centre cannot hold.
The whole sorry tale of Covid-19, maps out in grim detail the awful bitterness and estrangement within the DUP/Sinn Fein duopoly that lies at the very centre of our political system.
Scarcely a week has gone by, that there has not been some sort of bitter public feuding about an aspect of the anti-Covid public health measures.
You would think, given the enormity of the life and death struggle dealing with the pandemic, that both the DUP and Sinn Fein would be determined to work closely together in the common interest of defeating this deadly disease.
Last week focused on the issue of transfer tests. Deirdre Hargey, the Sinn Fein Minister for Communities, soon after an Executive meeting had ended, publicly criticised the decision to hold tests at the end of February.
In a thinly veiled attack on the hapless Peter Weir, the DUP Minister of Education, she criticised the lack of intervention with the AQE test providers.
Her criticism was legitimate and accords with many experts, but her public criticism was just simply wrong in the context of building and strengthening the power-sharing Executive.
It was bad politics, if you wish to build a healing partnership between our two traditions.
However, it seems that Sinn Fein is happier to maintain a strategy of constant tension and to engage in endless arguments week after week, rather than build a consensus that might heal our historic divisions.
The issue of the transfer tests has been ongoing since Martin McGuinness unilaterally abolished the official transfer tests in 2002, without putting an alternative non-selective system of transfer in place. It was gesture politics at its worst.
Now we have an unofficial transfer test system, that is extensively used throughout the north.
Whether one supports the 11+ or not, the reality is that thousands of pupils and their parents and schools use this system and thereby support this unofficial transfer system. The 11 + has really just been privatised.
While both sides argue that this is about the welfare of pupils, there is little doubt that Sinn Fein and DUP exploit this as a proxy issue to have a go at one another.
It is right to say that young pupils will suffer mental distress if they are forced to sit these tests, but equally it is right to say that young pupils will suffered mental distress, if they are prevented from sitting tests, that they have carefully prepared for and have anticipated for many months.
But why air these arguments in public? Is it not sufficient for ministers to debate these issues behind the closed doors of the Executive?
You could describe this flippantly, as Punch and Judy politics, but it is much more serious than that.
It is like a bad marriage, where there are endless rows and petty disagreements which could be resolved, but for the depth of marital bitterness and irreconcilable differences.
Bluntly, this is the awful state of our politics, in the midst of present extraordinary circumstances, where there is ample opportunity to lay aside political ill-feeling.
The public are rightly disturbed and frankly ashamed of their destructive public rancour.
The DUP/SF duopoly confidently believe that they have a captive electorate, that will continue to compliantly vote for them.
But the public can change all this, by voting against the duopoly in June 2022, which is not that far away, for parties that understand the healing spirit of partnership government.