Victor Davis Hanson

On Tuesday voters rejected President Obama's attempt to remake America in the image of an imploding Europe -- not just by overwhelmingly electing Republican candidates in the House, but by preferring dozens of maverick conservatives who ran against establishment Washington.

Why the near-historic rebuke? Out-of-control spending, unchecked borrowing, vast new entitlements and unsustainable debt -- all at a time of economic stagnation.

So what is next? Like the recovering addict who checks himself into rehab, a debt-addicted America just snapped out of its borrowing binge, is waking up with the shakes, and hopes there is still a chance at recovery.

It won't be easy. Obama and his Democratic Congress ran up nearly $3 trillion in new debt in just 21 months -- after running a disingenuous 2008 campaign that falsely promised to rein in the fiscal irresponsibility that had been rampant during the spendthrift Bush administration.

So the voters intervened and sent America in for rehab treatment. In our three-step road to recovery, we, the sick patient, must first end the denial, then accept the tough medicine, and finally change the entrenched habits that caused the addiction.

First, voters did not reject Obama's agenda because he was too centrist, borrowed and spent too little money, or did not more vigorously pursue unpopular agenda items like cap-and-trade and blanket amnesty. Nor was the Democratic meltdown because of Obama's inability to articulate his agenda. The vision itself -- not the talking points -- was the problem.

Obama failed miserably to keep the nation's trust. After just 21 months, the country concluded that he was an extremist, and that his attempts to manage the economy through massive borrowing, rapid growth in government size and spending, assumption of private enterprise, and serial harangues against business and the rich had turned a recession into a crisis of confidence and a near-depression. For some strange reason, Obama thought the cure for Republican big-spending was European-style socialism, when in fact, voters wanted an end to Bush-era borrowing and waste -- not far more of it.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.