The glee that has greeted the rout of the Democrats in the Congressional elections and consequent humiliation of Barack Obama should make us fearful of what may be inflicted on the world two years from now.
I recently found a leader I wrote for the Mirror before the Presidential election of 2000 expressing amazement that George W. Bush could possibly be considered as a candidate. He was, he won (well, he was declared the winner) and look what happened.
Over the past 24 hours there has been rather a lot of whistling to keep up the spirits by pretending that the bright side of these latest results is that a no-hoper right-winger will be picked by the Republicans to fight Obama, so he will win again.
No one should be so complacent. Sarah Palin or one of her equally scary soul mates is capable of winning the Republican nomination because a large section of that party is certifiable in the same way that much of the Conservative Party was after 1997 (or, for that matter, Labour in the early 1980s).
The greatest threats to democaracy and good government remain what they have always been - ignorance and prejudice. Ultimately we rely on honorable, conscientious politicians to do the correct thing and keep us on the straight and narrow.
Barack Obama is painted by the right - in this country as well as the States - as a wild ideologue, more than a bit of which is the racism suppressed in 2008 bursting like a boil on the body politik.
He is not. He is a decent man, struggling in an impossible situation. If he loses in 2012 to a Palinesque challenger, so will the world. The consequences are likely to be too terrifying to contemplate.