Robin Vos was the face of Wisconsin election

Assembly Speaker Vos challenges groups to solve road funding by Monday

MADISON, Wis. — There was one iconic image of this week’s election in Wisconsin: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, wearing a face mask, gloves and a protection gown, assured voters that it was very safe to come to the polls.

It was featured on the national news broadcasts Tuesday night. It was featured on the late-night comedy shows. Robin Vos became the face of Wisconsin – except, of course, we couldn’t see his face.

Well, that was one image. The other image was that of lines stretching for blocks of Wisconsin voters in the state’s cities waiting for hours to cast ballots because Vos and his ilk used their power to force in-person voting while Wisconsin and the nation are shut down because of a raging pandemic.

Governor Tony Evers called the state legislature into special session Saturday in a last-ditch attempt to postpone the election until June. In a display of utter contempt for Evers and for the safety of Wisconsin voters and poll workers, met for about a minute before going home.

So the voters did the only thing they could do. They voted. We won’t know for a week how things turned out but no one can be proud of what we have become.

I suggested a day ago that Wisconsin has become a laughingstock. As I watched television Tuesday night, I realized that I was wrong. No one is laughing at us. The main reaction was one of shock and, almost, horror.

Vos, of course, doesn’t care. He reported that voting in rural areas of Wisconsin went off without a hitch. Of course, we won’t know for sure whether that is true until a few weeks from now when anyone infected by the virus will show up at a hospital.

But, even if no one becomes sick, this is no way to show respect for voters.

We can’t gather in churches or in restaurants or bars. We can’t hold funerals for our loved ones. We can’t go to church. But if we want to exercise our right to vote, then we have to risk our lives.

Perhaps I am being too harsh. Vos did suggest last week that Evers relax his “Safer at Home” orders so that churches could open their doors for Easter and Passover services. His desire that people be exposed to infection, apparently, is not limited to voting.

None of this is limited to Vos, of course. It’s just that we have the photo of him in his hazmat suit.

But President Trump is busy condemning vote-by-mail proposals, arguing that those of us – I am one – who voted absentee are “cheaters” and cowards.

It will surprise no one that Trump, himself, voted by mail.

In the meantime, liberals seem outraged that Evers didn’t put up a better fight. I’m not quite sure what we think he should have done, but we would have liked to see him on the television screens waving his fists.

Maybe. But I think this is a Republican debacle and we ought to let Vos in his mask and gown be the image of the fight.

There is, however, one voice we ought to be hearing and we are not hearing: Just where is Tommy Thompson in all this? It is Thompson’s legacy that is being trashed. It is Thompson’s Republican Party that has become the face of zombie politics in Wisconsin. Has he nothing to say?