Is it fair to say that Democrats are every bit as bad as Republicans? No, of course it isn't, but that isn't the question. It never was. All the initiatives that make society worse come from Republicans. That much is clear. The real question is, are the Democrats an adequate and effective counterweight against Republican outrages, or does their ineptitude and lack of real conviction on its leadership levels cause them to play an enabling role? I really think you have to be drinking some pretty heavy-duty Kool-Aid not to realize that "B" is the correct answer.
What's going on with the recall election against Scott Walker is a very instructive example. Thousand of volunteers collected twice the number of signatures necessary to make the recall happen, and this despite assaults and threats from the pig-ignorant racists and rednecks who support Scott Walker. So how is the Democratic Party hierarchy rewarding this display of political faith and dedication? With about the level of feckless ineptitude political observers have come to expect from them.
Right now the Democrats don't really have the strong political figure necessary to oppose Scott Walker. So of course, the Democrats are gearing up for what I call a "clown-car" primary. This refers to a primary election so cluttered with inferior candidates that it becomes difficult for a strong candidate to emerge in the lead. In a recall election such as this, a clown-car primary makes the challengers waste time, manpower, and resources on this process, while the incumbent side is able to focus on gearing up to fight the challenge.
I'm not exactly impressed with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, either. With Governor Jim Doyle stepping down, it was he who ran against Scott Walker for the governor's seat in November 2010. It was close enough that it was obvious that the only reason Walker won was because it was a fear-and-discontent-driven wave-election. And President Obama bears at least some responsibility for that by 1) ramming unpopular healthcare "reform" down the country's throat [seriously, making everybody buy health insurance from private industry at rates to be determined by that industry; how is that not going to be a disaster?] and 2) filling his administration with the same old Wall Street crony capitalists who got us into the mess in which we no find ourselves, thus ensuring that nothing changes and none of those fat-cats will face any consequences. Polls also indicate that Barrett is as close to a popular leadership-figure as we're going to get. But right now Barrett is dithering about a rematch election because he might not be able to focus on being re-elected Mayor of Milwaukee if he does that. For fuck's sake, we need real leaders right now, not careerist-politicians who are more concerned with their own perquisites and position than what a crucial moment such as this demands.
And if the Scott Walker Republicans win this election by totally lying, cheating, and stealing just like you can consistently count on them to do, what might you expect from the Democrats in that situation? You can be pretty sure they would sit on their hands and play dumb just like they did on the national level in both 2000 and 2004. I would seriously love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this one, but I have found that in the sphere of human events (especially in a very dysfunctional situation), there are few more effective ways to predict the future than to extrapolate based on the relatively recent past. Those who do otherwise are generally motivated by a strong desire to deceive themselves.
Don't get me wrong. I will still go to the polls and vote for whoever the candidate opposing Scott Walker is, even if I have to hold my nose. (Former Congressman David Obey is the only prospective candidate for whom I can see myself having to do said holding. He's an asshole, basically.) Expecting a perfect candidate is certainly a good way to set oneself up for disappointment, especially when we're talking about the Democrats. But I have to be honest that what I'm seeing going on right now is every bit as dismaying as it is unsurprising.