This, in today’s Washington Post, does a great job explaining what has happened to the Democratic Party:
“By winning office with a negative 540,000-vote margin and then proceeding to govern in the most relentlessly partisan fashion from the right, the president has made unmistakably clear that the concerns of Democrats are of no interest to him. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, the Republican leadership relies solely on Republican votes to get its measures passed, going so far as to exclude mainstream Democrats from conference committees. When America’s new laws are to be negotiated, Republicans talk only to themselves.
Disastrously, it’s been the Democrats in Congress who’ve been the slowest to pick up on their new marginality. Some of the Democrats who voted to authorize the Iraq war in October 2002 did so — or say they did so — in hopes of prodding Bush to embrace a more multilateral approach toward Iraq.
Call this the Tony Blair Fallacy — both the prime minister and our own legislators failed to realize that Bush wanted only their permission, not their advice. And this year it was Ted Kennedy — long the wisest liberal head on the Hill — who calculated that the Medicare bill would grow more palatable the longer it was deliberated. In any previous Congress, that could well have been the case. In this Congress, however, no Democrats are allowed into the deliberations that matter.
[. . .]
While the nation’s Democratic leaders were unable to understand just how marginal they’d become, however, millions of rank-and-file Democrats and just plain disgruntled Bush-haters intuitively grasped what was going on. Bush was bent on repealing the New Deal and replacing the internationalist order that the United States had erected after World War II with a more nationalist vision of his own. If you weren’t with him, you were against him. And he was against you. “