Let’s say you’re a white conservative Republican politician vying to represent a mostly black and Democratic area on the board that governs the community colleges. You could present yourself honestly and try your best to convince voters that you’ll represent their interests, or you could fabricate a persona and hope to confuse enough voters to win.
Dave Wilson, an anti-gay candidate in Houston, Texas, did the latter:
Specifically, what Wilson did was distribute flyers with photographs of smiling African Americans, captioned with the words “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” The pictures were grabbed from a casual internet search. The most incredible detail of this scam involves another flyer:
If this were any other election, this wouldn't have worked. But because it was a low-turnout race for an obscure position, Wilson could get away with the stunt.
Still, it's hard to believe this happened. Yes, it’s true that politicians mislead voters about their intentions and their policies, though this is overstated. But it’s one thing to make a promise you can’t follow or a claim you can’t support, it’s something else entirely to pretend to be someone else entirely. Americans are upset that President Obama lied about changes to the individual insurance market under the Affordable Care Act, but relative to this, that's no big deal. For a comparable lie, Obama would have had to mislead the United States into believing he was a citizen of the United States, when in fact, he was a Kenyan socialist? (Of course, some Americans believe this is actually the case.)
Unfortunately, short of a recount that uncovers new votes, there’s nothing voters can do to change the outcome, which means Wilson will serve a six-year term on the board of the Houston Community College System. And given his willingness to lie to win an election, I have a hard time thinking he’ll use his position to fairly represent the voters of the city.