Recently a white and apparently socially conservative, vocally anti-gay republican (and ironically one of my fellow Wilson) Dave Wilson, won an election in a neatly all black, traditionally Democrat supporting district, by lying about his race. Wilson won a 6 year seat on the board that governs the Houston Community College System in a major upset, against 24 year incumbent Bruce Austin.
Dave Wilson recognized that winning this position was a long shot, so he decided to send flyers throughout the community with smiling black faces and the words “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” Wilson acknowledges he just lifted the pictures from the internet. Additionally, produced television spots with almost stereotypical black female voices expressing support for him and dissatisfaction with his incumbent.
He also released a mailer stating that he is endorsed by Ron Wilson (which is the name of well known, former state representative from the Houston area, who is well respected in the local black community). The small print on the mailer declares “Ron Wilson and Dave WIlson are cousins”. This statement, in fact, referred to Dave’s Cousin Ron who lives in Iowa. Since the election, Wilson has been very honest about the dishonesty he used to win the election, saying “Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters”.
For me no one comes out in this story looking good. We all know politicians are not typically known for their honesty, but this is so over the top and so egregious as to be ridiculous. It reflects even worse on Wilson that he has no qualms about using deceit “every time he talks”. At least his is honest about being dishonest.
What is worse is that it, does reflect poorly on the local community. I am reminded of my previous statement of the GG Allin theory of government that “the voters don’t get what they expect, they get what they deserve”. If the voters are not willing or able to do a little research than, they inevitably will always fall victim to dishonest politicians. Of course in voters’ defense, it is often hard to find information on local candidates, and these voters are certainly busy people, have many other things to worry about. If a figure that they respect like Ron Wilson (the former Representative) endorses someone, then that should be a reflection on what type of person he is.
While reading up on this story, I noticed that many commenters used this as an opportunity to accuse black voters of voting based on race. This struck me as highly unfair, since the incumbent was black and Wilson had such a reputation as a fringe candidate anyway. It seems more the case that this vote reflected the challenger’s ability to convince voters was part of their community and shared their concerns (despite him using a great deal of deceit to do this).
Though Wilson’s campaign was dishonest, he did not directly lie. Though if voters knew about his dishonesty, he almost certainly would have lost. While do not think he should be denied his seat, I do think his dishonesty should be highly publicized and that it should hurt his political career. That said, I already have disdain for some of the conservatives who are defending this guy.