However, the real American psyche in that era was based on the idea that the government owed an individual nothing more than opportunity and freedom of choice. People didn’t want handouts—that solution was anathema to the head-held-high view of every capable man and woman in America. They wanted only a chance to work. But the government checked the economy and took every wrong turn possible out of misguided sentimentality and a thirst to use the power they held to gain a political foothold that would last for generations. They wanted the masses beholden.

It was not as though there were no countervailing voices—voices that understood the human impulse toward achievement and the dignity of individual self-sufficiency. But partisanship ruled and the calls for economic sanity were dismissed. In the long term, FDR’s policies led to a culture of dependency for the poor and an untenable public debt created by a political machine that bought votes with cynical parentalism.

During President Lyndon Johnson’s administration in the 1960s bipartisanship was ignored again and the Democrats rolled over both common sense and fiscal reality when they enacted Medicare and Medicaid but imposed no fiscal controls and offered no incentive to individuals to use these programs wisely. In both eras the liberals had the power of numbers. Today the conservatives have the power of principle. It seems a fair fight.

The liberal’s results can be resolved today only by an equal, but far less cynical partisanship—the Tea Party reaction has risen with a view not toward politics but founded on principle. Because the liberals cannot dismiss principle on its merits, conservatism is attacked instead on a false emotional level.

In spite of the efforts of the Democrats, the political system isn’t broken, it is working just fine and the proof of this is in the electoral pudding. Republicans who embrace conservative principles are winning elections in record numbers, yet they are being accused of acting in their own political interests rather than the country’s. The exact opposite is the truth.

More to the point, Democrats and the conservative-Republican alliance are not fighting the same battles. The liberals want to maintain power, the conservatives want to save the nation.

The liberal call for bipartisanship is not a policy. It is the last refuge of the scoundrels who created this disaster in the first place. The Democrats took partisanship to an untenable extent that has created, so many decades later, the massive debt that our children and grandchildren are expected to repay. Passing this burden to the next two generations is unconscionable.

The 2010 election resulted in an unprecedented shift of power with 63 new Republican members of Congress, more than 700 new state legislators, and a change of control in more than 20 state legislatures. Even intensive efforts in 2011 by the government unions to recall all of the conservatives elected to the Wisconsin senate in 2010 failed, in large part because the public now understands today’s battle is not about partisan politics, it’s about the principles of sound social investment.

But the question remains: Will the Republicans, guided by their conservative mentors, continue on a course of fiscal sanity and civic responsibility? Will they effectively counter-punch both the Democrat’s defensive call for a mythical and self-serving bipartisanship and the liberal media’s political assault on real economics? Worse, will the Republicans, in a giddy state of political power, get so full of themselves they overreach and forget why they are there; will they foolishly conclude they can create their own political dynasty by petty attacks on legitimate, but currently irrelevant targets such as NPR or the National Endowment for the Arts?

The nation’s single purpose is to bring back fiscal sanity via responsible and responsive governing. If those who understand this need do not remain on a rational economic course we will be nothing. The people will have no jobs, we will be unable to protect our national security, and we will bequeath our kids and grandkids nothing but misery, debt, a perpetually empty Social Security “lockbox,” and the decline and destruction of an ideal—the United States of America—that is so worthy, and so precarious. The electorate knows this is not about power, it is about principle. Can the political class both comprehend and act on that reality?