Well this one is just too weird for words.
As a conservative white Republican running in a district whose voters are overwhelmingly black Democrats, the odds seemed overwhelmingly against [candidate Dave Wilson].
Then he came up with an idea, an advertising strategy that his opponent found “disgusting.” If a white guy didn’t have a chance in a mostly African-American district, Wilson would lead voters to think he’s black.
Dave Wilson, according to the KHOU report, distributed fliers with black faces (downloaded for free from the internet) asking people to “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson” in the Houston Community College board elections.
He also claimed the endorsement of “Ron Wilson,” a popular African-American former state representative — and the name of Dave Wilson’s cousin from Iowa, who lent his “endorsement” to the scam.
The deception worked. Dave Wilson won a seat on the Houston Community College board by 26 votes.
So how did the Houston Community College come to this pass? Dave Wilson is an attention-seeking troll, and has been for a while. It’s kind of his schtick. If the man has any qualifications for, or indeed interest in, the local community college, he’s done a good job hiding it.
But let’s be fair. The same could be said for most elected school board members. Which sort of begs the question of why we elect them in the first place.
Because there’s plenty of room for criticism of the voters involved in Dave Wilson’s election here. As far as political sleight-of-hand goes, slapping fake faces next to your name on fliers isn’t exactly a Byzantine plot. It relies — as Wilson was clearly aware — on most people’s willingness to say “eh, he looks pretty much like the last guy we elected” and pull the lever.
The burden of guilt, in all deceptions, lies on the deceiver and not the deceived. No ruse is so transparent that we should feel comfortable saying “well, if you fell for something that stupid, you deserve the consequences.” That arrogant superiority lasts exactly until the people harboring it find themselves duped in some other matter, and then the got-what-you-deserved smugness evaporates with startling speed.
But if we are going to hold local, boring elections for local, boring positions, we have to figure out some way of either making more people interested — and invested enough to actually read about the candidates before they pull the lever — or we have to put stricter rules in place governing the ways in which candidates can represent (and misrepresent) themselves to voters.
Because if Dave Wilson accomplished anything, it was to show that the system as it stands — at least in Houston — isn’t working.
And, I suppose, to get himself a six-year term on a local school board. Second prize is two six-year terms on a local school board?