The Robin Vos Basket of Deplorables

There’s a special place set aside in political hell for people like Robin Vos.

I think Democrats make a big mistake when they subscribe to the “basket of deplorables” view of Trump voters because, in fact, you can’t put all of them in one basket.

I put them in two.

The first basket is blue collar voters who may have voted for Barack Obama, Twice. Then they voted for Donald Trump. Again, twice. For those of you for whom this makes no sense, well, it does if you consider that the unifying force behind all those votes is the desperate hope for change. Why not vote for the first Black president — even if you’re somewhat racist yourself? He’ll be different anyway. And why not vote for a billionaire who violates every rule of personal conduct that you’ve tried to instill in your children? He sounds so different. Maybe he won’t be like all those other politicians who sounded good and just disappointed you.

And, in fact, people without a college degree have plenty of reason to want to blow things up. They’ve seen the world leave them. Technology and free trade have paid dividends, but those benefits have pretty much all gone to the college educated. As cited in Thomas B. Edsall’s column last week, in 1980, a college graduate earned, on average, 30% more than a person with a high school diploma; today it’s 50% more. Forty years ago, a person with an advanced degree earned 57% more than someone with a high school education; today it’s 127%.

And economic frustration is the fertile soil that helps grow cultural, ethnic and racial resentments that simmer underneath in better times. So, yeah, I have some sympathy for that first basket of Trumpers. In fact, they used to be Democrats because they saw the party as being for them. Now, they don’t. The Democrats would be smart to find ways to reconnect with those folks because it might win them some elections, and by the way, it might just save democracy.

Former Justice Michael Gableman at a rally where he supported Donald Trump’s lies about a “stolen election.”

But then there’s basket #2. These are the truly deplorable. They are people like Robin Vos. They’ve done well in this economy. They’re well-educated and well-informed. They know exactly who Donald Trump is and they understand exactly what notes he’s playing and why he’s playing them. They know perfectly well that he has taken a wrecking ball to our very system of government and to the values that define America.

They supported him anyway because they knew he would cut their taxes. They support him still because he pulls in the alienated blue collar voters that keep them in power.

It comes down to this. It’s one thing to support Trump because economic realities have driven you to such a level of frustration that you want a wrecking ball. It’s quite another to support him, knowing full well the damage he’s doing to the very foundation of the country, because you believe he’ll make you even richer than you are now.

And that’s Robin Vos. He’s a successful businessman with a college degree and he’s made it clear that he knows exactly what a buffoon Trump is and the threat he represents. Vos hesitated to allow three truly whacked out members of his caucus to go to Arizona so that they could witness the ludicrous “forensic” recount there being conducted by an outfit calling themselves “Cyber Ninjas.” I’m not making this up.

Vos even, apparently, mocked the mock-worthy fantasy that some ballots contained bamboo fibers, indicating that they had been printed (and supposedly marked) in China. But he eventually relented and let the three head off to Arizona to witness the circus that they hope to import here.

As further evidence that Vos knows better, he came up with a sham of his own, probably to head off an Arizona style fiasco. He is hiring three retired detectives to “investigate” allegations of fraud in the November election. The first of his hires sounds like Inspector Clouseau without the charm. He’s a former Milwaukee detective whose previous work was so bad that it was rejected by the FBI, the Justice Department and a Federal judge. Vos’ contract with the three stooges calls for the findings to be confidential. Of course. That’s because Vos knows that there is no fraud to be found and if they do “uncover” any their report will be so embarrassing that he doesn’t want to be associated with it.

But even that wasn’t good enough for Trump, who blasted Vos and other Republican leaders on the eve of this weekend’s state Republican convention for not chasing the same wild geese that are being chased in Arizona. Rather than standing up to Trump and resting on the insanity that he’s already got underway, Vos jumped to Trump’s call and announced at the convention that former conservative Justice Michael Gableman will head up the tireless probe of the intrepid investigators. The blind have now been hired to lead the blind.

Only days after the November election, Gableman, outrageously, supported Trump’s fact-free claim that the election was stolen. “I don’t think anyone here can think of anything more systematically unjust than a stolen election,” Gableman told a crowd at a pro-Trump rally staged Nov. 7 in a parking lot at American Serb Hall in Milwaukee, according to a story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

That’s irresponsible even for your crazy Uncle Harry to say at Thanksgiving dinner on his third Manhattan. But for a former Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to say it is just beyond the pale. And this is the guy Vos has tapped to get to the bottom of all that fraud.

And, by the way, we already know the extent of fraud in the last election because local election officials have reported all of 27 potential cases out of 3.3 million votes cast.

The evidence is clear. Robin Vos is no idiot and that just makes his actions even worse. He knows there is no fraud but he’s doing his part to undermine the very foundations of our democracy anyway because he doesn’t have the character or the guts to stand up to Donald Trump and the nut jobs in his caucus.

Now that’s deplorable.

Welcome to the 131st consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading!


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

4 thoughts on “The Robin Vos Basket of Deplorables

  1. I wonder if things are really measurably so bad for working class people that it causes desperation. The type of work needed is always changing. I don’t dismiss the claims in this blog article, but I wonder if things really are so tough for rural people in this economy that it’s the primary cause of abiding these conspiracy theories like the Big Lie.


  2. Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Isn’t this a little too partisan for your moderate blog, Dave? Dems can’t win unless they win over the people who get their news from listening to Aunt Nancy who gets her news from her neighbor who watches his news on a dark web video feed, right?


    1. I’ve always been clear about my politics. I’m a left-center Democrat, though not particularly partisan. I like the infrastructure deal because the center-left and center-right cooperated to make progress on behalf of everybody. I’m not following your other comments about the dark web.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Are you saying we need to indulge conspiracy theories, or at least not condemn them strongly, so that we don’t alienate people who are open to conspiracy theories while not accepting them fully?
      If so, doesn’t this dignify the conspiracy theories?


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