And we saw, growing in the windshield, the looming spectre of the European socialist experiment. We saw Greece, where union contracts and government debt had bankrupted an entire nation and turned it into a raging band of disaffected leeches. We saw France, where high taxation, low work hours and early retirement had turned one of the oldest members of Western Civilization into a cauldron of whining. We saw Spain, where perennially high inflation eventually sank the country's credit.
Then we looked in the rearview mirror. We saw the booming pre-Great Society economy. We saw the economy-jumpstarting Reagan tax cuts. We saw a time when Americans could start businesses without entangling themselves in burdensome regulatory schemes, when Americans could actually keep and save their own money and pass that money on to their children, when Americans gave charity to those in need rather than tax money to bureaucrats in plush offices.
And we made a choice. If we were going to move this country in one direction or another, we were going to move toward restoration rather than expediting national senescence. We were going to take the reins of our lives in our own hands once again, not leave them to the good intentions of government and the rhetorical flatulence of government's spokespeople.
The first step toward that restoration came on Tuesday. The American people voted for gridlock, almost literally embodying the William F. Buckley definition of conservatism, standing athwart history yelling "Stop!" The next step will come in 2012 when Americans have to make another affirmative choice in favor of liberalism's rollback, not its mere containment.
But for the moment, let us recognize how far we have come in just two years: from the precipice of national teenage oblivion to the foundations of a new American adulthood. Sometimes, it takes a crisis to learn life lessons. The economic crisis has taught us all that we must rely on ourselves and our families, not on the coercive power of a ham-handed and brutal government hell-bent on its own growth. Responsible adults are in charge now -- the American people. And we will not stop until our representatives of both parties grow up, too.