Some used to call them Canada's Natural Governing Party.
Their values were those of most Canadians - socially progressive, fiscally moderate, strong on foreign policy.
How far the Liberals have fallen.
Those party characteristics are still true, but they always used to get elected time after time with strong leadership.
That's what's changed.
It's been downhill since Jean Chretien was prime minister, and with a new set of contenders and pretenders to the Liberal throne making their way through Kamloops this week, one wonders if the party will be able to turn it around soon.
They had better this time around, because the long term future of the party is in grave danger.
In fact, I'd suggest they have this one shot to save themselves from obscurity.
There is plenty of unrest with the Harper government right now.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae has been as effective if not more so than Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair.
With a permanent leader, they have to be able to keep that credibility and momentum up until 2015, acting like they and not the NDP are the official opposition.
Their biggest challenge, though, will be the increasing polarization of the electorate.
Just like here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, Canadians are voting more along two extremes, rather than seeing the benefits of more moderate leadership.
They see the Conservatives - who are extremely conservative - and the NDP - representing the polar opposite - and align themselves into one of those two camps.
If the NDP under Mulcair fall back significantly in the next election, as is a distinct possibility, the Liberals still have a shot at opposition status or even governing.
If the vote continues to fall along those two polarities, then the fat lady may be singing on their chances.
That's why this leadership race is probably their last real shot, and they had better get it right for their own political survival.