- - Thursday, September 20, 2012

Every four years, we hear the same line: No election in history has ever mattered more than this one. This election, however, truly will determine whether our nation’s path veers toward greatness or continued decline.

Part of the reason many Americans are so cynical is that they’ve heard it all before, and nothing seems to change. That’s because America’s problems are not Democratic or Republican problems. Politicians from both parties have failed to lead and have put us in the mess we’re in.

America is at a crisis point. Alarmingly, our nation’s debt has surpassed its gross domestic product. We’re on the same road Greece is on, but there is a big difference. There are nations that can bail out Greece. The truth is, there isn’t anyone who can bail out America.

That’s why all across this country, we’re seeing a great awakening rising up to take our country back. Whether you call it the Tea Party, conservatism or just plain common sense, Americans are standing up for liberty, the Constitution and limited government.

On the path to the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Texas, I saw that awakening firsthand. When I started running in the primary, I was at 2 percent in the polls, and the margin of error was 3 percent. They said I couldn’t do it alone. They were right. All across Texas, we saw Tea Party supporters, Republican women and grass-roots activists unite behind our campaign. They did so because, like me, they see this as our crucial chance to stand up and save what Ronald Reagan called the “shining city upon a hill.”

The story of America is a love story between a people and liberty. It’s the story of our Founding Fathers, who fled religious oppression and fought and bled to craft a Constitution to protect the God-given rights of every American. It’s the story of the brave Texans in the city of Gonzales during our own revolution against Mexico. When the Mexican dictator Santa Anna demanded that they give up their guns and the cannon that guarded the city, they responded with the immortal cry, “Come and take it.”

It’s the story of the greatest generation of Americans, who rose up to confront the evil that was the Nazis and saved civilization for the West. It’s the story of civil rights heroes, such as Martin Luther King, who spoke up against the scourge of discrimination and bravely championed the idea that all men and women should be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

It’s the story of Reagan, who turned back the creeping growth of government and restored “morning in America,” who spoke out against the oppressive evil of communism and demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

It’s the story of my mom — Irish and Italian, working-class, the first in her family to go to college — a pioneering mathematician and computer programmer in the 1950s.

It’s the story of my dad, who was imprisoned and tortured in Cuba and beaten nearly to death. He fled to Texas in 1957, speaking no English, with just $100 sewn into his underwear. He washed dishes, making 50 cents an hour to pay his way through the University of Texas, and started a small business in the oil and gas industry.

This story is a story of all Americans, and that’s what this phenomenon they call the Tea Party is all about: millions of Americans who are standing up to reclaim our country. These are the ordinary people who make up the fabric of America. They embody our centuries-old love story with liberty, free enterprise and the unlimited potential of free men and women to achieve the American dream.

But today, that dream is threatened. Government spending is out of control, and our crushing debt threatens our future. Every generation of Americans has given to its children and grandchildren a brighter future, greater opportunity and prosperity. Ours will be no different — but only if we ensure that through our actions today.

This, then, is what the election is fundamentally about: Do we stand up for liberty, for fiscal sanity, for unlimited potential and American exceptionalism? Or do we stand back and watch as the “shining city upon a hill” goes the way of Greece?

Now is the time for this new, great awakening to culminate in a profound transformation: to elect a new generation of leaders who will stand up for liberty, free enterprise and that American dream that our forefathers lived and that today is so threatened.

The stakes are too high for us to fail.

Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, is a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

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