How fitting that Scott Brown's U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts came on Jan. 19, 2010 -- almost exactly a year to the day after Barack Obama's inauguration as president.

Recall the scene just 12 months ago. In Washington, the wave of Obama-worship was cresting, as quasi-religious fervor gripped crowds of the new president's adoring supporters. Obama was a self-appointed Messiah -- the man who had accepted his party's nomination standing before the pillars of a Greek temple. Newsweek's Evan Thomas breathlessly summed up the national frenzy when he described the Great Man as "sort of God."

On Tuesday, we got incontrovertible evidence that the country has finally awakened from its yearlong, modern-day tent revival. Massachusetts citizens spoke for many across America: This man is not the messiah, he doesn't walk on water, and he was selling snake oil all along.

Brown's upset win is a vivid reminder of the dangers a political party faces in a democracy when it governs too arrogantly. Obama and the Democrats' inebriation at their 2008 victory was perhaps understandable. But they overreached egregiously when they took their victory -- based, in actuality, on Obama's personal charisma, on Bush-fatigue and on anxiety over the economic downturn -- as a mandate to impose a left-wing model of governance based on exploding debt, stifling regulation and a cradle-to-grave entitlement mentality.

In fact, America hasn't moved to the left. On Tuesday, we saw this vividly in Massachusetts, where registered Republicans make up only 15 percent of the population. The Bay State hasn't elected a Republican senator since 1972. Last year, Obama coasted to victory there by 26 points.

The common wisdom is that Brown's win was all about health care -- a resounding rejection of Democrats' plan for an effective government takeover of one-sixth of our economy. It's true that Brown made his campaign a referendum on health care and promised to be the 41st vote that could stop the dreadful bills before Congress. But he also took aim at two other mainstays of Obama's agenda.

The first was terrorism. Brown, a lieutenant colonel with the Massachusetts National Guard, called for tough interrogation of suspected terrorists, including waterboarding when necessary.

And he deplored Obama's plan to treat suspected terrorists like ordinary criminals. "As an attorney," he told voters, "I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation. They do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them."

Brown's national security message resonated even more with Massachusetts voters than did his position on health care reform, according to the campaign's internal polls.

Brown also took a strong stand against Democrats' call for higher taxes. He hammered home the connection between low taxes and the robust economy needed for job creation, and vowed -- once in Washington -- to work for across-the-board tax cuts.

Brown's victory reflected voters' disenchantment, not only with Obama's policies but also with the way that the president and the Democratic Congress have actually governed. Throughout his campaign, the Bay State's new senator gave voice to Americans who feel betrayed by the arrogant, secretive way that health care reform has been carried out.

Obama and his Democratic allies didn't end political cronyism, as they had promised. Instead, they orchestrated outrageous deals like the "Cornhusker kickback," which exempted Sen. Ben Nelson's Nebraska from anticipated new Medicaid costs, and the "Louisiana Purchase," which snagged Sen. Mary Landrieu's vote with a similar $300 million deal. Instead of governing transparently, Democrats conducted their horse-trading behind closed doors, in the worst Chicago-style, backroom tradition.

In the end, Brown's victory signals America's rejection of a governing elite that aims to impose its worldview on the rest of us unenlightened folks, whether we like it or not. His win is the latest manifestation of a grass-roots rebellion that first erupted with last summer's Tea Party protests.

Democrats pooh-poohed this populist uprising, dismissing its participants as right-wing cranks. But Brown became a potent symbol of the movement. He drove his 2005 GMC truck across Massachusetts to take its message to voters, putting nearly 200,000 miles on the odometer in the process.

Scott Brown's triumph gives Americans a second chance -- an opportunity to start over on health care and to repair the damage done by metastasizing government and soaring deficits. His victory reminds us that a little-known guy in a pickup truck, who connects with average people, can still beat the odds in the United States of America.

Katherine Kersten is a Twin Cities writer and speaker. Reach her at