I wonder when it was that reasonably perceptive Roman citizens began to realize that their nation was going into its decline. When the Republic became an Empire? Some other time? I believe I know how they might have felt.
Since Bush seems to have won this one fair and square, plus having gained seats in both houses of Congress, all we can look forward to is an even more intense concentration on the neo-conservatives' stupid, violent, corrupt and wasteful agenda, justified by his "mandate." Civilized nations will justifiably percieve that a majority of the American people (including, of course, those that didn't vote at all) support (and therefore take the blame for) the continuation of this brutish program. Weaker nations will also be justified in fearing that a hungry predator is loose on the world with no check. Meanwhile, the religious right will run amok with its attempted return to social puritanism, and those whose major goal is control of the people (ala Ashcroft) will get more and more license to pry and intimidate. The strangling of stem-cell and other biological research will guarantee that these transformative technologies will become the exclusive province of other nations. The rich will go abroad to get such treatments, while the US medical system collapses.
Wherever Osama Bin Laden is, he must be smiling. If we'd just had four years of Bush's bumbling rapine, the chance of his being re-elected would have been small. The terrorist issue gave Bush his victory. A terrorist such as Bin Laden cannot destroy a country like the United States, but he can goad it into destroying itself, and this he may have now succeeded in doing. In four more years, no one may care who has the White House or the Congress: the looters who invested in the Bush presidency (and who are Bin Laden's unwitting confederates therefore)will have stolen everything worth having, leaving the country with the status of a pariah nation, a ruined economy, devastated environment, worthless currency, crippling debt, a military ground back to post-Vietnam levels of low morale and readiness, and a Constitution distorted out of recognizable shape.
It will take the nation decades to recover from this debacle, if it ever can at all. Given increasing scarcity and demand for the natural resources we hog, I think there's a possiblity we never will fully recover. It is said that democracy is the system wherein everyone gets what the majority deserves. Given that, I accept that the vast majority of the people have asked for this and have it coming. I am sorry that there is no viable alternative for most of the rest of us but to ride out the crash as best we may.
I am deeply sorry also, that these events may have signaled the doom of humankind on earth. There are two books which have significantly formed my thinking about the future. The first is the famous Club of Rome report, "The Limits to Growth," published in 1972. Whilst the book did not predict what precisely would happen, it stated that if the world's consumption patterns and population growth continued at the same high rates of the time, the earth would strike its limits within a century. Basically, the book's conclusion was that disaster could be avoided by reducing population and reverting to low-environmental-impact lifestyles--such as herding sheep. The book did not take into account the possiblity of introducing extra-terrestrial sources of energy and industry, as postulated in G. Harry Stine's "Second Industrial Revolution," which gave me new hope for the future. However, at this time, the United States remains our best hope for the exploitation and industrialization of near space, but that certainly won't happen any time during the Bush administration or likely thereafter, and probably never as these efforts become "too expensive." Frankly, I think that the private space efforts are too little and too late, and barnstorming flights into suborbital space are never going to amount to anything else. I have long since given up hope that I would live to see humankind move out into circum-solar space, let alone the greater Universe, but it is bitter, bitter, to think that it will never happen at all.