It's enough to shatter your faith in electoral democracy.
As of this writing, the Wisconsin recall elections are a tossup. Maybe the Democrats will pull it out, maybe they won't.
This shouldn't be the case. If the election were about union-busting - solely about union-busting - I would be disappointed. I would be dejected. I would not, however, be casting aspersions on what this meant for the future of democracy in Wisconsin, and in America as a whole.
Scott Walker used the compensation of unionized teachers as his explanation for his union-busting legislation - saying it was inflated because unions work to get politicians elected. Is this true? I'm skeptical.
But why should this not be equally true of the public safety unions, who were split (some locals endorsing Walker, others his opponent, others staying out of it) as with the other public sector unions, which endorsed his opponent? The reason they were left exempt was to send a message - back my opponent, and your livelihood is at stake. A message that no union would be able to mess with Republicans again.
Consider some of the other legislation Scott Walker has signed. A "Voter ID" law, among the most restrictive in the nation. Rather than bring proof of your age and citizenship to be listed on the voter rolls, you need an ID card. Now, perhaps if you're a driver there's a reason to have an ID on you all the time. Me? I have an ID lying around my bedroom somewhere. If I was a college student - not able to use it to drink, not in a position where I rely on a car to get around - I might not get one. Same thing if I live in a city, don't have that much money, and rely on public transit. I might not have one - why should I have to go to the DMV and wait in line in order to be eligible to vote? I might use my student ID, but that doesn't qualify. To say nothing of the homeless, who might not even have somewhere safe to keep them.
Why was this passed? There was no voter fraud epidemic which had to be stopped And it just so happens that DMVs in democratic-leaning areas were understaffed and had long lines.
Certainly, if I lived in Wisconsin, I would make an effort to get around these obstacles. But it's not hard to see how making Democratic-leaning demographics have a harder time voting shows contempt for democracy itself.
And then there's the gerrymander - partisan gerrymandering may be sadly common in this country, but rushing a bill through so that the recall elections can't stop you is not.
There's even little things, like the treatment of protesters, the lies about damage they caused, and the flagrant disregard for the Open Meetings Law.
What there certainly is in Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republican Party is a pattern of flagrant contempt for democracy, much of which is spreading nationwide. And enough voters to make elections competitive are rewarding him for it.
(Some people blame this on Citizens United, but this is a symptom, not a cause. A people who believed in democracy on principle would have passed a constitutional amendment to overturn it; instead, Republican voters support it because it helps them win.)
Our democracy is already dead, for about half the country views it as secondary to their side winning, and no democracy can survive long in such a position.