One of Newt Gingrich's favorite verbal firebombs was calling Democrats "the enemies of normal Americans." We will ignore the nasty code contained in the former GOP House speaker's remark. But suffice it to say, Democrats used to spend much time catering to narrow interest groups at the expense of the middle-class masses.
That was then, and then is clearly not now.
Democrats have emerged as champions of horse sense and competent governance. And they're on the offensive, accusing Republicans of downright weirdness in their fiscal recklessness and seeming obsession with the interests of the richest few.
Classism. Pure, unmitigated classism.
At its core, the Democratic Party believes that people define themselves primarily by their income and relative economic status--and in opposition to those of differing status.
As opposed to, say, profession, religious beliefs, stances on issues, etc. etc. etc. You know--the things that people actually base their votes on.
Much as I despise Bill Clinton, he proved to be the rare exception to the rule: For Democrats to win, Republicans have to first lose. (And even that exception is questionable, as Ross Perot's candidacy threw the entire 1992 election into chaos--and Clinton didn't get anywhere close to a majority vote.) The party has put itself in a position where it doesn't work the other way around.
(Now that I think about it, that goes a long way towards explaining the longstanding preoccupation with slamming Republicans at the slightest provocation--real, imagined, or manufactured.)
Virtually the only time the donkey is ascendant is when the elephant is first in freefall, as was the case last year--and, sadly, as looks to be the case in 2008.