The Washington Times - January 20, 2010, 03:44AM

Republican Scott Brown’s historic come-from-behind Senatorial victory in the Democratic bastion of Massachusetts carries a clear, concise message to the party in power; stop what you are doing, or face the consequences.

President Obama took office a year ago today with a mandate from the American people, a mandate to heal the breach between the parties, to forge consensus, to promote open dialogue and build trust. He did none of these things. Instead the president and his ideological coreligionists in the Congress abused their mandate by pushing ahead on a radical agenda that was out of step with the needs and desires of the American people. Instead of healing the breach, he widened it. Rather than pursuing consensus the president rejected compromise and stifled debate. The Democratic leadership ignored Republicans and bullied moderates in their own party. The audacity of hope transformed into the arrogance of power.

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The government’s sins in the past year have been great and small, from accruing unprecedented, destructive long term debt to fund unnecessary government bloat, to instructing our homeland defenders to keep a close eye on veterans as a select class of potential terrorists; attempting to take control of large swaths of the economy through the imposition of carbon credits to combat a manufactured crisis; seeking to grant voting rights to millions of illegal aliens to rig the system in their favor; and engineering a comprehensive government takeover of the health care system when 80% of Americans were satisfied with their current coverage.

The Democrats had cynically exploited Senator Ted Kennedy’s death to generate sympathy for their health care measure, spinning it as a legacy project, a tribute to his years of public service. Yet on the eve of the final vote with the bill hanging in the balance they lost Kennedy’s seat, in one of the safest Democratic states in the union, to a Republican challenger who made opposition to the health plan an important part of his campaign.

But of course it was never Kennedy’s seat. As Mr. Brown said, it was the people’s seat. And the people took it back.

American voters do not participate in the political system in as great numbers as in other democracies, and political scientists go to great lengths to explain this apparent voter apathy. But it might better be termed complacency, the belief that if things are going well enough there is no need to vote. That is clearly not the case now. The people are energized and a making their voices heard. Democrats and their fellow-travelers in the mainstream media mocked the Tea Party movement, but they should have understood it is a symptom of the broad disaffection the country feels for the hard left ideological agenda they are chiseling into law. Liberal pundits also attempted to explain away the implications of Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey last November, the result of massive defections from the coalition that elected Mr. Obama.

But Mr. Brown’s win is an inconvenient truth, a stubborn fact that they cannot avoid. Massachusetts voted for Mr. Obama by a 26% margin in 2008; a year into his presidency this bluest of the blue states is sending a Republican to the Senate who promised to provide the critical vote to hamstring Mr. Obama’s centerpiece legislative priority.

Get the message yet?

Last Thursday at the House Democratic Caucus retreat Mr. Obama said that he welcomed a political fight over his health plan. “That is a fight I want to have,” he said. But he does not seem to understand that he is already in the middle of that fight, and he is losing badly. The president who saw the most rapid first-year decline in public approval for any president since the Gallup has kept records should have a little more humility. Yet all signals from the White House are that they will press ahead and find a way to pass the health care measure by hook or by crook.

Still not getting it?

Democrats in competitive districts – like Massachusetts – are facing the most hostile political climate in a generation. It is more dangerous for them than 1994, and they should recall with some dread the tall timber that fell that November – among the 34 Democratic incumbent casualties were Speaker Tom Foley, Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski and Judiciary Chairman Jack Brooks. It would be satisfying to see Nancy Pelosi sent back to live in her mansion in well deserved obscurity, but that may be a bridge too far. Yet the odds of her serving as Speaker of the House after the next election are increasingly slim.

Can you hear them now?

The American people want smaller government, lower deficits, less intrusion in their daily lives, no utopian schemes to perfect the world. They want a government that will live within its means, and mind its own business. They want to be kept safe, and allowed to prosper. They want elected officials who see themselves as stewards of the public trust, not social engineers who think they know better than the people who elected them. They want to be treated with respect by their government, not mocked, blamed, taxed, and regulated.

The Democrats have spent a year moving the country too far, too fast, and in the wrong direction. They are too arrogant to know this, and too obstinate to stop. But the American people showed last night that they will use their residual rights, their sovereign power, to halt the runaway train in Washington. And if the Democrats do not stop what they are doing, abandon their radical agenda and live up to the promises they made in 2008 to restore trust and balance to government, the voters in their righteous indignation will do it for them. Just like they did yesterday in Massachusetts.