The Republicans have hit upon a winning and time-tested combination: the high-turnout fundamentalist Christian base combined with the ruling elite, with a healthy dose of deregulation and lower taxes to make small business owners feel like they're part of the club. This isn't much different than the very successful formula of the Holy Roman Empire, and we shouldn't underestimate it. The only difference is that the Holy Roman Empire didn't need the gun nuts to top off their 50%+1.
The problem that the Democrats have today is that we're left with the rest. We can all find things wrong with the Republicans, but we can't agree on which ones are the worst. The passion deficit in the Democratic party is caused by the fact that we all have our pet issues, but they're different pet issues, and any one candidate can't possibly represent them all well.
There's of course, plenty of passion outside the Republican party. Labor unions are very passionate about good jobs with good benefits and good working conditions here in the states. Environmentalists are very passionate about maintaining the environment. Gays and lesbians are very passionate about securing equal rights to the pursuit of happiness. Feminists are very passionate about the right to choose whether to have an abortion. The list goes on.
The Democrats have the opportunity to be the great party of the center. The challenge is to come up with a structure to harness the passions of the extremes, without being beholden to the extremes. The only way to do that is to bust up the two party system.
This is where the Greens and Libertarians come in. They may be kooky. We don't agree with them on many issues. But we all have one thing in common: the status quo has got to go, and we're all very passionate about that.
Some of us may wish to one day get lucky, and see the Left rule the roost the way the Right does. However, I think there's a lot of folks who are scared for our democracy, and are really scared of what it means for the Right to have this much power. It seems more than anyone should have.
A radical centrist who is willing to commit to busting up the two party system through real electoral reform can potentially excite a lot of passionate support from the most unlikely places. Libertarians in Texas, Greens in California and centrists in Ohio can all get excited about a single candidate. Rather than exploiting our differences to shut out the minority, let's exploit our differences to include them.
Note: wegerje has been trying to stir up interest in this for a while. Though I'm a long time electoral reform advocate, I've been holding off beating the drum too loudly, hoping we wouldn't have such drastic justification. However, now that we're buried in lemons.....