MY 2017 kicked off with Donald J Trump’s inauguration. I’d spent a few months travelling in the United States prior to the 2016 Presidential election, so I viewed that day in Washington as a coda to an eventful year.

Uncharacteristically, until that point I’d done my best to give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt, something that evaporated the moment he began articulating the inanities of white American nationalism. As George W Bush is said to have remarked, it “was some weird sh**”.

Since that day, there’s been much talk of “Trump’s America”, the simplistic notion that a country of more than 325 million somehow changes completely as the result of one election. There are, of course, several Americas, not only of the angry, Trumpist variety, but more liberal incarnations.

I’ve spent the past week in resolutely blue California, where the President is regarded by many (certainly not all) of its citizens as beyond the pale. Many do their best to pretend he doesn’t exist, ignoring political news and hoping – perhaps assuming – he’ll soon be gone, following the next election if not before.

In his recent radio interview with Prince Harry, former President Obama lamented the loss of “a common set of facts”, a “baseline of reality” upon which liberals and conservatives could agree even when they disagreed on points of policy. One of the “dangers” of the internet, he added, was that “people can have entirely different realities”.

What Obama described will be familiar to veterans of the referendums on Scottish independence and membership of the European Union, and of course it’s easier to diagnose the problem than cure it. All those “different realities”, meanwhile, encompass contradictions, inconsistencies the “mainstream media” rightly highlight in print and on the air.

Take the (supposedly) Grand Old Party, which in recent decades has deified deficit reduction and, more recently, turned itself against immigration. Yet in the past month it has passed a tax bill that’ll significantly add to the nation’s already-high deficit while pressing ahead with proposals to prevent so-called “dreamers” – young undocumented immigrants – facing deportation. Confused? You should be.

In liberal America, meanwhile, affluent white people regularly congratulate themselves on their diversity and progressiveness without doing very much to encourage its spread. Wealthy California might be resolutely anti-Trump, but it’s still seemingly incapable of providing basic mental health services or keeping homeless people off its cities’ streets. Such symbolic progressivism will also be familiar to those in the mother country.

There are, of course, honourable exceptions. For many Republicans, their patience repeatedly tested since last January, the Alabama candidacy of Judge Roy Moore was a step too far, while his failure to win election to the Senate indicated that at least some normally Republican voters thought so too. And, today, New York State begins its “Paid Family Leave” policy, the sort of welfare provision taken for granted in Europe but still a novelty in the even the most progressive corners of the United States.

Generally speaking, however, America’s different “realities” tend to be mutually uncomprehending, their respective adherents socialising, working and even living increasingly separately. Now that, to some extent, has always been the case, but the “culture war” element of US politics has arguably become even more violent following the ascent of Trump.

And while we in Scotland and the rest of the UK like to pretend in our superior way that our polities are above that sort of thing, aspects of contemporary American politics are, and have been, clearly present in our own politics, be it cynical attacks on the media, a disruptive approach to Obama’s “common set of facts” and a tendency to accuse critics of talking their country down. I arrived in New York, for example, just as Britain lost its head over the colour of its passports.

A while ago I got into trouble for writing that Donald Trump looked to me like “Alex Salmond on steroids”, although I like to think subsequent events rather vindicated that admittedly provocative point. Indeed, there’s something in nationalism (be it Scottish, British or American) that finds itself irresistibly drawn to badly-behaved, middle-aged white men. Take Mick Huckabee’s Twitter musings following a screening of Darkest Hour (not out in the UK till January 12), that Trump was a Churchill to Obama’s Chamberlain.

But if Democrats believe facile comparisons like that will hand them the White House come 2020, I have a feeling they’ll be mistaken. Although the party is making much of its intention to contest every possible seat in November’s mid-term elections, it’s still in the denial phase of post-election grieving, projecting onto Russia and, like Charles Dickens' Micawber, dearly hoping something will turn up.

Smarter Democrats like House minority leader Nancy Pelosi realise that (at the moment) fruitless “impeach Trump” campaigns will turn voters off but she can’t control the troops. Their thinking, meanwhile, will be that a low turnout in the mid-terms will help the party, with the Democratic base likely motivated by a negative “we hate Trump the most” campaign.

But a good Democratic result in November – and the party needs only two gains to win control of the Senate – could actually be a bad thing, for it would mean strategists (such as they are) double down for the next Presidential election in less than three years’ time. Such complacency, however, will fundamentally fail to give voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan any reason to support non-GOP candidates.

Indeed, Trump voters will most likely be fired up to re-elect their 21st century Churchill, feeling vindicated – however superficially – by tax changes about to take effect. As Obama put it a few days ago, hashtags alone don’t bring about change, and Democrats ought to view 2018 as the year they begin to make sure there isn’t a second Trump inauguration in January 2021.