Finally, desperately, the GOP turned to a chameleon -- Mitt Romney -- who appeared acceptable to every faction because he had no convictions of his own. But Romney couldn't survive the general election because the public saw him for what he was: synthetic and inauthentic.
The 2012 election exposed something else about the GOP: its utter lack of touch with reality, its bizarre incapacity to see and understand what was happening in the country. Think of Karl Rove's delirium on Fox election night.
All of which has given Obama the perfect opening -- perhaps the opening he'd been waiting for all along.
Obama's focus in his second inaugural -- and, by inference, in his second term -- on equal opportunity is hardly a radical agenda. But it aggravates all the tensions inside the GOP. And it leaves the GOP without an overriding target to maintain its fragile coalition.
In hammering home the need for the rich to contribute a fair share in order to ensure equal opportunity, and for anyone in America -- be they poor, black, gay, immigrant, women, or average working person -- to be able to make the most of themselves, Obama advances the founding ideals of America in such way that the Republican Party is incapable of opposing yet also incapable of uniting behind.
History and demographics are on the side of the Democrats, but history and demography have been on the Democrats' side for decades. What's new is the Republican crackup -- opening the way for a new Democratic coalition of socially-liberal young people, women, minorities, middle-class professionals, and what's left of the anti-corporate working class.
If Obama remains as clear and combative as he has been since Election Day, his second term may be noted not only for its accomplishment but also for finally unraveling what Reagan put together. In other words, John Boehner's fear may be well-founded.