+Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) just tweeted a link to a Washington Post opinion piece that asks the question: Which was the most important U.S. election ever? http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/which-was-the-most-important-us-election-ever/2012/02/13/gIQAtBlGKR_print.html
It's an intriguing article, which makes the case that none of the modern, over-hyped elections can possibly match the election of 1860, which brought Lincoln to power and was followed by a civil war, or the election of 1932, which brought us FDR and the New Deal. Modern elections just don't add up, the author, David Mayhew, concludes.
But I think that the author's historical hindsight should be turned forward. It seems to me that the election of 2000 might well be up there. Without the election of George W. Bush, I don't think we would have danced quite so hard to Bin Laden's tune, leading the country into two wars (one of which was entirely gratuitous). Nor would we have had the runaway deficit spending (including the cost of those two wars) that bankrupted our economy.
Even more importantly, we had no action on climate change, and an administration that pretended that what might be the greatest challenge to modern civilization was nothing to worry about. I suspect our descendants, if they care about these things, will indeed regard the election of 2000 as a decisive point in the history not just of our country, but of the world.