Since 1968, when Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew first used what was perceived as the rise of the counter-culture to gain political power, presidential politics has been shaped by the forces unleashed in the 1960s. Most of the time this has been to the detriment of the Democratic Party. In that period Republicans won elections in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000, and 2004. During that period Democrats won elections in 1976, 1992, and 1998. If you are keeping score, that's Rs 7 and Ds 3.
The decade of the sixties unleashed a form of passionate politics because the challenges of that era were very divisive. America faced challenges to the established order from movements that advocated civil rights for blacks, women, and gays, from the anti-Vietnam War movement, from the environmental movement, and from people who challenged the existing sexual mores of the time. All of those movements found a political home in the Democratic Party and all of them were bitterly opposed by other Americans. It is not surprising that their opponents found a political home in the Republican Party.
It is no wonder, then, that the politics spawned by that era was and remains very personal and divisive. Time, however, changes everything. The "baby boom" started with people born in 1946 and ended with people born in 1960. The oldest boomers are now 60 and the youngest are 46. They are starting to give way to the next generation.
According to Howard Fineman of Newsweek this could lead to a politics that is no longer dominated by boomer obsessions. (You can read his article by clicking on the title of this entry.) Although his article doesn't go on with this analysis, Democrats far more than Republicans will benefit from America moving past the "culture wars." From our perspective it can't happen soon enough.