Four years ago, in the wake of a mediocre debate performance by President Obama, blogger Andrew Sullivan had what could be charitably termed a "major freak-out." Overnight polls showed Romney gaining a 12-point swing, and gaining a slight lead in the race. I'm reminded of that incident today because we are on the eve of the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And the situation today is arguably far more dire. Clinton doesn't have a 12 point lead to give up. And the prospects of a Trump Presidency worry me far more than a potential Romney one ever did. Don't get me wrong: Trump isn't Hitler. He's not a present-day Idi Amin or Hugo Chavez, No matter how dreadful he might turn out to be as President, our system of Government and our national institutions will serve to preserve the foundations of our democracy and our nation. Social Security and the Constitution will survive a Trump Presidency. And, come what may, after four or eight years he would simply have to go. But I do firmly believe a Trump Presidency would be a dreadful, and all-but unprecedented step backwards for the United States as a nation, as a society, and an economy. At the very least, the US would become an international laughing-stock. The same countries that marveled at a nation that could elect its first Black President would recoil in horror at our first reality-TV President. It seems likely that women's rights to control their own reproductive destiny, a cornerstone of so much social and economic progress in the past half-century, will be irreparably damaged at the hands of a Republican Congress and a Trump White House. A Supreme Court that had seemed headed towards a 21st century centrist consensus will be cast back for another generation. Reckless tax cuts on the richest Americans will further deepen our deficits, while failing to bring economic growth and increasing the inequality that is slowly eroding our civil society. I worry greatly about Trump's potential impact on foreign relations. I see Vladimir Putin emboldened to take over Ukraine. I see our NATO alliance, the cornerstone of national security for almost seventy years, fatally weakened. I see twenty to thirty million Americans losing their rights and their access to health insurance. Trump has vowed to "repeal" Obamacare. Something a Republican Congress will gladly assist him in. While spectacularly failing to "replace" it with anything at all. Those are the stakes. Four years ago I kept faith in the collective wisdom of the American people. And they did not let me down.