The declining trend in the Democratic Party from 1968 to 1998 forced a crisis. The result of that crisis was the election of George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000, the Republican gain in Congressional seats in 2002, and the re-election of G.W.B. over John Kerry in 2004. The trend led to the crisis; the crisis led into the crack-up.
So what were the trend, the crisis, and the crack-up?
The trend was the Democrats gradualy slipping from being the majority party. The crisis was the collapse of the Clinton Presidency. The crack-up was the descent of the left-wing of the Democratic Party into conspriacy theory paranoia.
David Limbaugh's new book, Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party, Mr. Limbaugh dissects the decline of the Democratic Party and discusses the trend, the crisis, and the crack-up. He is interviewed at National Review Online:
It's hard to pinpoint an exact date, but I think the party sold its soul during the Clinton years, when it circled the wagons around a felonious president instead of doing the honorable thing. It embraced, rather than repudiated, a thoroughly corrupt president in exchange for holding on to political power. It seems that the party's electoral successes were tied to Clinton's cult of personality. He was able to keep them afloat temporarily, but ultimately it was their dependence on him that sunk the Democrats.Note: I am completely convinced that had Al Gore in 1999 made a "more in sorrow than in anger" speech where he distanced himself from Clinton's behavior while embracing Clintonian centrism, he would have taken the presidency by a 7-10 percent margin. His unqualified embracing of Clinton ("our greatest president") exposed his shallowness and opportunism.
The party is not about the centrism Clinton pretended to champion. It is about advancing a far-left agenda. Poll after poll reveals that liberalism is a minority position in this country today — not the equal portion of a 50/50 nation that liberals still pray it is. As I discuss in the closing pages of my book, even James Carville has virtually reconciled himself to the reality that for now, at least, the Democratic party is a minority party.So what will the Democrats do in 2008? Could they possibly try to "run against Bush?" Well, it's said that generals always fight the last war. Democrats need to shake off the netroots and not run the presidential campaigns of 2000 and 2004 over again.
Herein lies the key to answering your question. The party's unmitigated angst is largely tied to its loss of power. It simply cannot abide having lost control of the legislative branch it ruthlessly dominated for four decades. But even more, it cannot accept consistently losing the executive branch, especially after Clinton's eight years gave them reason for such optimism. Their conviction of their majority status and their entitlement to the executive branch gave way to collective shock and disbelief after the 2000 election results. How could they possibly have lost given Clinton's reputed record of peace and prosperity?
The Democrats rejected the loss in 2000 and put the country through hell trying to manufacture reasons to discredit the results in Florida, and thus the national results. In the process, which I meticulously document, they further debased themselves. In their utter failure to steal the 2000 election and to vindicate themselves finally in 2004, they have become completely embittered. Today they are driven not by an alternative policy agenda, but on a singular, myopic hatred for George W. Bush. I have retraced the unfolding of these events, including highlights of their unforgivable behavior in 2000, not to refight old battles, but to provide some insight into what has driven this party to utter distraction and aimlessness when it comes to policy.