In presidential elections, the Democratic Party candidate has outpolled the Republican nominee in five of the last six votes. The Republican Party is in a similar situation that the Democratic Party faced after the 1988 election. It's trying to appeal to an electorate tired of its dogma. For Republicans in this era, the tired dogma is of a conservative; twenty-four years ago, tired liberal dogma dogged the Democrats.
It's fashionable, and perhaps natural, for political sycophants -- aligned with the party in power -- to predict a generation or more of dominance for their preferred party. Many Democrats see President Obama's victories as a harbinger of long-term Democratic Party domination as well as the start of an irreversible decline for Republicans.
But such thinking is as much nonsense today as it was in 2004, when many Republicans, buoyed by success, or in 1988, predicted the decline of liberalism and the Democratic Party. The truth is, in our two-party system, political success is cyclical, and often relegated only to the presidency. Republicans still control the House of Representatives, for example.
The emergence of a major, iconic political figure with the talents and ideology to revive a lackluster brand is a periodic event in U.S. history. It speaks well of our political system, and our nation, that figures such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton arrive on the scene. Take Clinton, for example. His ascendancy to the presidency in 1992 not only restored the White House to the Democratic Party, it moved the party right, and toward the mainstream of the country.
Republicans need a leader with the talents of a Clinton and a Reagan. With the current GOP, such a leader will probably be called to moderate the party, and make it more appealing to single Americans, women and Hispanics. Such a politician will have the skills to make the party more moderate yet provide a conservative alternative to President Obama's traditional liberalism, which promises feeble action against high deficits and alarming debt.
It will be interesting to see when such a leader materializes, and who it is.