Just as Ronald Reagan didn’t develop the popular conservative message of the 1980’s, it didn’t erode with the nomination of Sen. John McCain. It was a gradual undoing:
Unfortunately, after taking power, Republicans began walking away from their story. It is, after all, very difficult to be the anti-state party if you are the state. Republicans were captured by government, the exigencies of power, and the incentive to maintain it. In the years since 1980, Democrats cast about for a motivating purpose — a story that would carry them back to a long-term governing majority. They tried liberalism, moderation, and triangulation.
Now, they’re back. But the Left did not retake the executive and legislative branches by being more liberal or more moderate, or by clever political jujitsu. Democrats became the majority because they changed the story.
Complete Republican dominance of the executive and legislative branches gave the Left the incentive to pursue new strategies — to develop new infrastructure, new communications channels, and organizing methods. The Left moved messaging, mobilization, and money outside the traditional Democratic establishment, giving their movement new power and new energy.