Voter irresponsibility elects man who pretended to be black to win

Most of our politicians lie. As a nation, we choose to allow most of our esteemed leaders a certain amount of leeway, a queue of how many white lies we’ll chalk up to the nature of the game before we start holding them accountable.

Some politicians go above and beyond, crossing the line so severely that we’re forced to show ourselves a little self-respect and call them out on it. Impeach them. Leave them to the mercy of Perez Hilton.

For one politician, the only way to win a local election was to convince his voters he’s a race that’s different from his own. It’s 2013, but based on the criteria too many people use to figure out who gets their vote, we might as well still be riding around in horse-pulled buggies.

Dave Wilson recently won an election that gave him a seat on the Board of Trustees in the Houston Community College System. Dave Wilson campaigned by spreading around fliers implying that Ron Wilson, a former state representative and African-American, endorsed him.

Wilson spread around flier after flier, suggesting to the voters in his majority black district that he was, in fact, a black man.

No, he never outright said it. Taking a far more insidious route, Wilson instead pulled results from the Google searches I imagine consisted of things like “likeable, friendly black man” and “pretty African-American woman.”

He covered his fliers in the images of innocuous African-Americans, and only African-Americans, with a slogan imploring the voter to support their friend.

If you haven’t already figured it out, Dave Wilson is a white man, and if this isn’t one of the most frank lessons in how today’s political system works, I’m just not sure what is.

According to KHOU, Wilson won the election instead of HCC’s incumbent for the past 24 years, Bruce Austin. Deceiving your voters isn’t something to be dismissed as an imperfect part of a grander social experiment — but then again, Wilson didn’t tell an outright lie by any means.

Yes, there was a photograph of Ron Wilson on Wilson’s fliers. Yes, the photos featured a tagline, saying that Ron supported Dave.

However, what some might not report is that there was also a disclaimer at the bottom of his fliers, which read, “Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins.”

Ron and Dave aren’t related in the slightest. Dave Wilson just happens to have a cousin in Iowa that’s named Ron. “He’s a nice cousin,” Wilson said, according to KHOU. “We played baseball in high school together. And he’s endorsed me.”

So, part one of Dave’s trickery is just as unacceptable as it is comical, excluding the racial undertones of his preventable deception — i.e. reading the disclaimer at the bottom.

Ah, and then there was part two of his experiment that, unfortunately, confirmed Wilson’s hypothesis — Wilson’s voters cared more about his skin color than they ever could have his principles.

All it would’ve taken is a simple Google search of Dave Wilson to figure out that he’s not African-American.

Relying on one flier — provided to you by the guy who’s trying to get your vote, no less — is an incredibly insufficient method of determining who gets your vote.

Relying on the fact that somebody’s a particular race, however, is just downright despicable. The only reason, presumably, that Wilson won is based on the fact that his voters thought he was black.

We’ll never know for sure, obviously, but KHOU reported that most involved in the HCC elections thought that Wilson’s victory “was almost certainly influenced by his racially tinged campaign.”

However, Wilson is by no means innocent. He’s an anti-LGBT rights activist and a fringe candidate who’s ran and lost for mayor, as reported by KHOU.

Whether Wilson necessarily deserves the position he’s in is certainly up for debate, but this isn’t about political ideologies.

It’s about the race playing more of a dominant role in our politics. Might as well forget about the content of someone’s character.

Our vote is too important to not put in some homework. Always remember to read the fine print — Heaven forbid, you might wind up not electing a representative who complies with your racial beliefs.

Wilson may have stolen his way to the vote, but it was all too easy when his voters left their windows open.

Senior staff columnist Cara Smith is a communications junior and may be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

  • Don’t be a low information voter (LIV). Your vote does count, for better or worse. If you are (a LIV), then sadly, you deserve the results for your recklessness.

    Related, I would hope people vote based on where the candidate stands on issues, and their character, instead of the color of their skin. There’s a word for people who vote based on skin color….

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