When the results of the presidential election of 2000 started coming into question late on election night, I panicked.
When Al Gore conceded to George W. Bush after the Supreme Court ruling, I felt gut-punched.
When then Vice President Dick Cheney said that American service personnel would be welcomed as heroes when/if they entered Iraq, I laughed.
When the entire premise of the Bush II Iraq War became suspect, exposing all the lies, falsehoods, and glaring lack of a longterm strategy, I was angry.
When America elected a president, who could be so easily manipulated by a bunch of old, white, oil hungry warmongers, I said that the country got what it deserved since it took clueless voters to put clueless W into office.
When Donald Trump was elected president, I was not surprised, but shaken.
When, like Gore, Hillary Clinton had lost the Electoral College, but won the popular vote, I saw an ominous harbinger.
When Mike Pompeo said last week that Iranians would be happy after the U.S. took out their military commander, I had deja vu.
Here we go again -- but this time, things are much worse, and we're a long way from finished. What will happen to us?
We still have a cadre of white men around the commander-in-chief, but they are hapless, spineless and powerless. They don't manipulate but capitulate. They kowtow to a herky-jerky president, whose impetuous, mendacious, and venal actions have finally put not just the country, but the world at great risk. No one is crying over the death of Iran's Qasem Soleimani, he got what he deserved after all of the horror he unleashed, but does America deserve the ensuing onslaught of trial, carnage, and disrepute Trump is unleashing?
I'm not comparing Trump to a war criminal, let's be clear. But look what Trump has done to the fabric of our country, our quilted alliances, and the thread-bare unsteadiness of the Middle East.
We are about to go through a bitter impeachment trial in the Senate. News that former national security advisor and conservative darling John Bolton (who has extolled an extreme hard-line approach to Iran), has agreed to testify raises the stakes immensely on what should be a solemn, fact-finding trial. But not with Trump. He will throw up roadblocks, stifle the turnover of documents and pulverize the process. Nixon resigned before a Senate trial, because he knew he was guilty. Clinton cooperated, begrudgingly, but fully, because he knew the charges weren't impeachment-worthy. Trump? Anyone should be smart enough to figure why he's stonewalling and wailing to the detriment of our constitution and democracy.
Last month, world leaders of other democracies were caught laughing at Trump at the NATO summit in London; however, they are not laughing now. When Bush II went into Iraq, he at least had some semblance of smarts to coerce a few allies to take part in the ill-advised invasion. Trump? He chose to take out Iran's adversarial military leader whose actions affected all of NATO allied countries -- and then some -- and didn't bother to tell our allies about the strike.
Representative Gerry Connolly of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said that the rationale for taking out Soleimani wouldn't pass a "high-school thesis." Presumably he means there was no imminent threat; maybe it's sort of like Bush's claim of Iraq buying uranium for their unfound nuclear weapons? So without consulting allies, the Trump administration has no one to back their claim. And, for our allies to be in the dark? They had to scurry to protect their own troops and citizens after Soleimani's sudden assassination.
But why should Trump tell our allies? After all, he pulled out of two of the most consequential world agreements in this century and didn't bother with how the world would react: the United Nations Paris Climate Treaty and the Iran nuclear pact (aka Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Now, Iran, as many prognosticators predicted, has shunned the agreement, and vowed to produce enriched uranium for nuclear weapons. The world is on edge and rightfully mortified.
Iran's race to a nuclear weapon, and their anticipated "appropriate response" to the U.S. killing of Soleimani will cause upheaval in the Middle East and elsewhere, the likes of which the world may not have yet experienced. And with all of this, the world will blame Trump.
But it's not totally Trump's fault.
The American people elected Donald Trump as president. Maybe you didn't, but the electoral college went his way. Like Bush, the American people are getting what they voted for. Having second thoughts, many voters flocked to the polls in 2018 to make sure the House went to the Democrats, so that there was some accountability somewhere in Washington, and to a degree there was some redemption with impeachment; however, the accountability has always rested with Republicans in the Senate, and their lack of nipping the Trump problem in the bud, when many were sounding the alarm, is already deriving the calamitious costs many predicted (hello Bob Corker and Jeff Flake).
God help us. The upcoming months will be the very definition of tumultuous, traumatic, and downright terrible. Whether or not Iran responds beyond its initial ballistic missile launch into Iraq is anyone's guess, but all of this is not pretty and very provocative. We've seen the masses of millions out on the streets of Tehran decrying vengeance, and a stampede of the mourners killing dozens. And we witnessed the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei sobbing over Soleimani's coffin.
We've also seen Iraq's call for the U.S. to leave. That was Soleimani's goal -- to rid the Middle East of the U.S. And then Trump absurdly Twitter-threatened Islamic cultural sites as potential military targets. Regardless of the history between Iraq and Iran, it's an us versus them moment. More emotional than rational. Those countries feel a kinship of being torn apart and fragile. Who knows what the future holds for a Middle East that's on tender hooks.
And the United States is also teetering. If you think things are bad now, then you haven't seen anything yet. The risk of the unknown is more riskier and more unknown than ever before. Hopefully, we will not see innocent fatalities if Iran lashes back further. If we do, the Republicans will try and defend Trump's actions and offer their mind-numbing thoughts and prayers for the victims. They could have done so much more.
And, we will see one person play the ultimate victim during the Senate impeachment hearing, and his words will cause division and rancor while the Republicans continue to defend him. And he'll be spared removal. And then he'll tear apart any decorum that's left in this country by his ruthless behavior during the upcoming presidential election. The carnage will continue -- on so many fronts. What have we come to? How did all this unspool? How do we cope? How do we gird ourselves? What can we do to stop all of this? What will we come to? How much more detriment can Trump do to us? What will happen to us? What does our future hold?
When Bush was reelected in 2004, I bitterly shook my head.
If Trump is reelected this year, what will we do? Let's not be forced to answer that question.
JohnCasey is a PR professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.