Democrats love to talk about how the old GOP was better. More reasonable. The GOP likes to pretend that in the future we will look back at the current GOP and like them the way they think we like the 'old GOP'. They do this because they like to pretend that the Democrats are the problem, not the GOP. Not true.
Here is a short simplified history of the GOP vs Democrat Party.
In the 19th century, the Republican Party was the voice of reason, god, and justice. A hero named Abraham Lincoln rose up and took action. As a direct result of his actions slavery ended. Of course, it took a civil war between the North and the South to right this wrong. (No, vampires were not involved, despite the recent book/movie.)
The South resented this. Losing a war does that. Lincoln eventually was murdered by a southerner. But that did not assuage their resentment. It lived on - against the Republican Party that they blamed for the Civil War.
As such for more than a hundred years, the south HATED the Democrats - almost as badly as they hated their ex-slaves. White Republicans were rarer in the south than a four leaf clover.
During this time period, the Republican party was mostly northern conservatives and moderates. The Democrat party was a bunch of northern liberals plus all the white southerns. The black southerns were mostly disenfranchised.
A hundred years later, the civil rights movement rose up. A southern Democrat - Johnson, saw these disenfranchised voters and wanted their votes. This left the southern democrats in a quandy. You see, they were democrats because they blamed the GOP for the Civil War and freeing the slaves. They could not stay part of the Democrats now that it was filled with blacks. This is not to say that the old racists turned traitor and joined the GOP. Instead, their children did. The next generation grew up in a place where the Democrats were pushing civil rights, while the GOP was blocking them.
As such, both parties began to change. While the Democrats were recruiting all the newly enfranchised blacks, the GOP was convincing the white children of the south to become Republicans. The Democrats became a moderate/liberal party and the GOP became a conservative party. Until that time, the differences were very slight. Not so with their new members.
The black population came from a history of not voting and were attracted by a party that was already catering to their needs. The Democrats willingly embraced the new constituency whose goals were mostly aligned with the old guard. Some were conservative, some were liberal, so the Democrats maintained their wide spread of ideals. Oh, anti-racism and anti-poverty themes were strengthened, but as the newly enfranchised black population grew and matured, their interests moderated, rather than pushed the Democrats towards far left politics.
Not so in the GOP. Their new recruits came from highly political families and brought strong ideas. They had been raised on the the ideas of "state rights', as a counter to the growing national liberal trend (ignoring the fact that states have NO rights - it's people that get rights and states that abuse them.). More importantly, they did not come because they liked the everything about the Republicans - they came because they disliked the Democrats.
As they grew into power, they remade the GOP into their own image. It was the most conservative southerners that left the Democrats and joined the GOP. They transformed it from a moderate party into a more and more far right party.
During the same time period, the Democrats grew bigger. They were not losing their northern whites, they kept them. Their party was expanding and the old guard managed to create a "Big Tent" party that encompassed both the older views and the newer ones.
Those changes have continued. The Democrats continue to strive to keep both the conservative and liberal members in their party. The GOP on the other hand got on a road to zealotry and has never left (so to speak). Certain members started pushing libertarian ideas, that the majority of the old GOP hated. Ron Paul is the prime example of this.
Each year the GOP moves further and further to the radical right.
At heart, the Democrats have not changed. They kept their moderates. But the GOP has changed.
The Democrats will never like the current crop of 'new republicans'. They are nothing but a bunch of dangerous, radical extremists - more at home with the religious terrorists of the Middle East than social moderates of Europe.
Now for the pay off - this explains quite a bit about why we have such gridlock in Congress. The parties used to be much more similar to each other, willing to work together. But the GOP is no longer willing to discuss things. They are just like their Muslim enemies - so convinced they must be right that their enemies must be evil.
The Democrats on the other hand are far more like Europe. We disagree, we argue, but when push comes to shove, we recognize our opponents are not evil - just ignorant. Why? Because we, unlike the GOP, allow for differences of opinions. We area big tent, they have become a lunatic fringe that thinks the President of the United States is not born in the USA. If you don't insult those that believe that, then you cater to and support them - which is WORSE than believing it yourself. It demonstrates evil beyond belief.