In many ways, Election 2006 not only marks the last chance to exact some accountability from those responsible for the disastrous Iraq War and other failures, but it also represents a point of no return for a nation hurtling toward a future of endless warfare abroad and a new-age totalitarianism at home.
If Bush follows the pattern of 2002 and 2004, he will interpret a Republican victory on Nov. 7 as a mandate for pursuing and expanding his policies.
That would presumably please neoconservative activists and prominent Republicans, such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who have spoken eagerly about waging "World War III" against Islamic militants around the globe.
Since much of the "World War III" talk is tossed about in a cavalier fashion, it is not clear if its promoters have weighed the likely consequences of fighting a global conflict with many of the world's one billion Muslims. How the United States would muster the vast numbers of troops needed for such an endeavor has never been explained.
In his stump speeches, Bush agrees that Election 2006 represents a crucial turning point for the nation, although his warning is of the dire consequences from a Democratic victory.
On Oct. 30 in a speech in Statesboro, Georgia, Bush added, "However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses."
Despite the sometimes over-heated rhetoric, Election 2006 does come down to these fundamental questions:
Does the public's desire for more safety from terrorists trump the nation's historic commitment to constitutional liberties? Should the United States abandon its founding principles as a Republic where citizens possess "unalienable rights" and trade that in for a system where one man decides where to wage war and whom to imprison?
Is "World War III" between the United States and Islamic militants inevitable or should other alternatives be tried first aimed at reducing tensions and isolating the hard-core extremists?
Granted, these are difficult and complex issues for the U.S. press corps to explain. It's a lot easier to frame a story around John Kerry's joke.
But no American should go to the polls on Nov. 7 - whether voting Republican or Democratic - without recognizing what that vote will mean. The United States is at a dangerous crossroads. Indeed, it may be at a point of no return.
November 7th may be the salvation or the damnation of the United States for generations to come. It's our choice, depending on who counts the votes.
Go read this one.