Imagine a world in which an egotistical bloviator like Donald Trump had his hand on the nuclear trigger.
The Paris terrorist tragedy has once again put into sharp relief the fact that our president is also the Commander-in-Chief.
Let's take a quick tour of the GOP field and try to visualize which of them we would truly trust to protect our national security.
Think about the leaders in the current Republican field.
Donald Trump? Massive egotism, bull-in-the-china-closet, shoot first -- ask questions later. These are not the traits -- or temperament -- you want in a Commander-in-Chief who has, among other things, been empowered with the nuclear launch codes and could literally destroy much of humanity.
And that doesn't even account for the fact that he has not indicated an iota of knowledge of the details of the issues involved in foreign policy. Not to worry. He says he would hire the country's foremost "experts" to solve every problem.
Speaking of clueless -- that brings us to the other current GOP "front runner," Ben Carson. This is a guy with absolutely zero experience running anything -- much less the largest military on earth. He is a person who has a hard time keeping the details of his own personal history straight -- or at least being straight with the voters. A man who -- notwithstanding being a gifted surgeon -- does not really believe in science.
And then there is Jeb Bush, who has embraced his brother George's legacy in Iraq. George Bush presided over some of the greatest foreign policy disasters in over half a century.
Jeb claims that his brother George "Kept America Safe"? Except, of course, the 3,000-plus Americans who were killed on 9/11, which happened on his watch.
We now know that George was warned in no uncertain terms by the intelligence community that Bin Laden planned an attack on the United States homeland and did nothing to protect us.
ISIL, that claims credit for the Paris attacks, is the barbaric offspring of Bush's disastrous War in Iraq. That war kicked over the sectarian hornets nest in Iraq -- and the region. It spawned Al Qaeda in Iraq -- which did not exist in that country before the invasion. That new organization included many officers from the Sunni-led Iraqi army which Bush disbanded when he occupied the country. It appealed to the Sunni sense of disenfranchisement and after the sectarian administration of Nuri al-Maliki that Bush and company had backed, Al Qaeda in Iraq morphed into ISIL.
Now there is a legacy. And it is precisely that legacy that Jeb Bush has embraced -- and precisely the legacy that was shaped by many of the same foreign policy "experts" upon whom he relies for counsel.
Then there is Marco Rubio, the fresh new face that many in the GOP establishment hope will ultimately rise to carry their banner next fall. Really?
You're telling me you can't find anyone in the GOP to be Commander-in-Chief that isn't superior to a light-weight like Rubio? Rubio's only real foreign policy "experience" has been his advocacy for the obviously failed policy of isolating Cuba for over half a century.
Of course this policy was a demonstrable failure, since the Castros' revolutionary regime it sought to oust is still in power after 50 years. Its main consequence has been to limit American businesses from access to the Cuban market, and create hardship for everyday Cubans who were denied access to many American-made products.
Note also that history had long since passed it by. Vietnam, with whom we had a long shooting war in which we lost almost 60,000 American lives, has been a major U.S. trading partner for years. Cuba -- with whom we have never had hostilities -- is still on the embargo list. President Obama has finally acted to normalize relations with Cuba.
But support for the failed Cuba policy of the past - and hawkish opposition to the agreement that prevents Iran from getting nuclear weapons - are the major hallmarks of Rubio's shallow foreign policy experience.
Then there is Ted Cruz. Ted Cruz not only shares the bull-in-a-china-closet foreign policy views of the other major GOP contenders, he combines with them a Machiavellian demagoguery best compared to the late Senator Joseph McCarthy of communist scare fame in the 50's.
If you liked the "black lists" of the McCarthy era, you would love President Ted Cruz.
Cruz, of course, poses as stridently "anti-terrorist" -- but he is also stridently opposed to common sense legislation to control gun violence, like universal background checks on gun purchasers.
Several years ago, a video made by a now-deceased, American-born, leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,Anwar al-Awlaki, called on Americans to engage in violent jihad in the United States. He argued that it was easy to undertake successful terrorist actions in the U.S. because it was so easy to obtain guns in the U.S.
Cruz is stridently "anti-terrorist" until that goal conflicts with his extremist views on guns.
At this point, at least, that completes the list of GOP Presidential hopefuls who are likely to seriously contend for the nomination. All of them would be foreign policy disasters.
Compare that list to the Democratic presidential aspirants -- and especially to the front-runner Hillary Clinton.
When she is nominated by the Democratic Party, she will arguably have more foreign policy experience than any nominee for president of either party in the last 50 years.
After eight years observing her husband's stewardship of American foreign policy as first lady, Clinton served in the Senate and then for four years as President Obama's Secretary of State.
She would enter office with a profound understanding of the issues -- and relationships with almost every major world leader.
No doubt in the course of her career she has made some mistakes -- notably her early support for the Iraq War. But she readily admits that the War in Iraq was a mistake, and has since been part of constructing the multi-lateral, war-as-the-last-resort policy of the Obama Administration that is massively superior to the shoot-first-ask-questions-later foreign policy of the Bush years.
Jeb Bush, on the other hand -- who has never had a day's experience actually making decisions about foreign policy -- still embraces his brother's disastrous policies.
Just as important is temperament. Putting an egomaniacal, inexperienced or demagogic person in the Oval Office could result in a genuine catastrophe.
At the very beginning of the George W. Bush Administration, I accompanied my wife, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, to a Democratic Caucus retreat. On the buses traveling there we all watched the new movie "13 Days." It is the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis of the Kennedy years.
The film, that was based on the historic record, showed how close we came to an actual nuclear war with the Soviet Union -- and how the judgment of President Kennedy and his closest advisors narrowly prevented a nuclear Armageddon.
When we arrived at the site of the retreat having seen "13 Days," the new President, George W. Bush, addressed the group. It was a shocking contrast. And we did not yet know how shocking, since we had not yet witnessed the results of the unilateral, tone deaf foreign policy that would result in the catastrophic Iraq War disaster.
But even then, we all thanked God that John Kennedy -- not George W. Bush -- was president of the United States during those frightening days of October 1962.
The question of who might sit in the president's chair -- who might have his or her finger on the nuclear button -- could be an existential question for America, and for much of humanity.
A few years ago I read a book by a planetary scientist named David Grinspoon called Lonely Planets. It explores the question of extraterrestrial life.
Toward the end of his book, Grinspoon speculates on the chances of survival for intelligent life in the universe. He argues that every civilization of intelligent creatures must pass through a gauntlet that tests whether the values and political structures of the society are capable of keeping pace with the exponentially increasing power of the society's technology. If its values and political structures can keep pace with technological change, the society may pass into a phase of enormous freedom and possibility. If it does not, the power of its own technology will destroy it. Perhaps, he postulates, civilizations are like seahorses. Many are born, but only a few survive.
For the first time, a little more than half a century ago, human society entered that gauntlet. Our technological growth reached a point of takeoff that for the first time gave us the power to destroy ourselves and all life on our tiny, fragile planet. From that moment on, the race began.
The next several generations of humans will decide how that race turns out. We won't simply observe it, or describe it; we will decide it. Whatever the future holds will be a result of human decision for which we are all responsible.
We will decide if we pass through that gauntlet or - like our cousins the Neanderthals - become evolutionary dead ends. We will decide if humanity passes into a new era of possibility and freedom -- or the human story simply ends.
The question of who is elected President of the United States could have a large bearing on how that story turns out.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.