At the end of the Bush/Cheney era, I thought the contrasts between the Democrats and Republicans were as clear as I'd seen them in my lifetime. After all, we'd just seen the Republicans lie in order to start an unnecessary war we couldn't seem to get out of, crash our economy, and run the national debt into the stratosphere.
Following their electoral defeats in both 2006 and 2008, I wondered what the Republican Party would do to re-constitute itself. There were sure ample reasons to re-think their policies.
Its now clear what they did in response...they doubled-down on everything that had failed before. The great divide between the Republicans and Democrats has never been more clear.
At a time when the ranks of those living in poverty is growing and the middle class is loosing ground daily, the Republicans have firmly staked their ground on fighting for the wealthy. They've drawn the battle lines at protecting billionaire's tax cuts and trying to make an argument that "corporations are people too." All this while continuing to suggest that taxes need to be raised on the poor and elderly in this country.
George Bush found out that talk about privatizing Social Security didn't sell very well. And yet this group of Republicans is back at it. Not only that - they passed a bill in the House that would have voucherized Medicare.
While the economy is still struggling with the financial crisis caused by de-regulation, these Republicans would have us believe that getting rid of government regulations is the only way to solve the problem.
They mock the science of global climate change, boo gay soldiers, cheer the death of an uninsured man, and applaud executions.
Finally, they've taken the unprecedented approach of obstructing anything this President proposes - and been willing to sacrifice the safety and security of our country - in order to score political points.
It used to be that Republicans would take these positions but camouflage them during elections in an attempt to fool the public into voting for them. Its what drove the questions about what was the matter with Kansas. For now, those days are over.
I happen to be one that doesn't think that's just an accident. Our President's attempts to usher in an era of bi-partisanship have challenged the very notions at the heart of the Republican mindset. They know that if the country were to engage in serious rational discussions about the issues that confront us - they lose.
And so as President Obama offered them the opportunity to work together or paint themselves into an increasingly extremist corner - they chose the later. And of course, the racist tea partiers were more than happy to lead the way.
I tend to be an optimist about the American people and think that - as this election rolls out - the public will reject that extremism. But we've got our work cut out for us. Its our job to make sure voters know that never before has the choice been more clear.