Cork the champagne and Pepto-Bismol, Democrats and Republicans, and stop trying to reach your back to pat, independents and moderates: The world is still turning in the same directions. We’d better pay attention, quick, and act responsibly, or there won’t be enough indigestions and blame to pass around.

There’s really little clear in the election results, but many cross-currents of unease, which for varied reasons depending on the locality, tilted the Congress by 10 percent. There’s no mandate for any particular policy or for a dramatic change of policies. There is only one mandate: for more responsible legislators to be more concerned about the nation’s welfare than about their own.

Ideologues can argue, if they wish, and it won’t be useless for left and right to examine and better redefine themselves. But, most Americans don’t need their instruction. Repeated surveys demonstrate a mature faith in core American principles of caring about the freedom of others and willingness to contribute, at least when we are sufficiently focused and they make reasonable efforts to care about themselves.

Those core principles also include restraint by government in crafting the least intrusive assistance to our needs and needy, and faith and resilience in the face of adversity or challenge. That was the true lesson of Reagan, sunny confidence, as there were few legislative changes, which returned America to what Americans expect of themselves.

The challenges to Western values, within and without, and from terrorists and failed-states with horrible weapons aimed at our very lives, continues unabated. We can’t, and won’t, withdraw over some imaginary geographical or ideological horizon, as there are no escapes.

Other nations and peoples who care for their survival should, however, take note to stand more determinedly and forcibly for their self-defense and progress, and pass fewer bucks to Americans or feel able to act negligently toward their own primary defensive interests.

The challenges to America’s prosperity are increasing, from ravenous competition elsewhere and from unfunded and unaffordable programs of false entitlement that impoverish the productive and young. Even liberals don’t dare propose higher taxes, and see the need instead for more incentives to save and retain enough assets to be self-responsible.

Americans are not blasé Europeans, nor content to be second-best, and will likely not be gulled or steamrollered into ditching their choices and quality of healthcare for government-run promises, especially as they see European and Canadian examples of rationing and backward medicine.

And, don’t expect newly liberated Republicans, less tied to a rump administration that has actually been quite accommodating to Democrats, to quietly go along with any excesses of legislation, instead adopting the Democrats’ 60-vote requirement to pass anything out of the Senate.

The old warhorse liberals shaped in the ’60s will do their dance of trying to embarrass and hogtie the Bush administration in publicity seeking Congressional hearings, and they be amply aided by their allies in the major media.

However, with respect to Iraq, they will have to explain where 200,000 or 500,000 more troops would have come from in the deracinated military created by the "peace dividend" spending spree of the ’90s, and how that would have done much real good in the absence of will to confront Syrian and Iranian sabotage of the post-2003 Iraq.

It won’t be the Democrats acting alone who may toss in a towel, but some dispirited conservatives as well, if Iraqis don’t quickly get their acts together. But, that will only increase the regional dangers from Iran and Syria, encourage a destabilized Pakistan to abuse their nuclear arms, reduce the prospect of a stabilized Afghanistan, and further isolate and endanger Israel.

The United Nations, with or without the fearless U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, will continue to be useless and hostile to America and freedom, and continue to be seen as such. Those proposing reliance on it will be marked as inane and candidates for retirement in 2008. Democrats and Republicans will be measured by how they cooperate to forestall and overcome these imminent dangers.

The 2008 elections will be, even more than 2004, the test of those governing by the balanced judgment of Americans. In 2004, all the prices of determination and all the costs of capitulation, all the prices of ignoring runaway spending and all the costs of national bankruptcy and limited hope by the working and middle classes, were not as clear as they will be in 2008.

All our legislators better heed, as there’s no getting off and we all depend on they being anchored in common-sense.

Bruce Kesler blogs at Democracyproject.com.