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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Election Days can be dizzying — like trying to absorb a three-ring circus with all three acts going at once.

In last week’s elections, the national media focused tightly on the center ring, where two gubernatorial contests and one mayoral race were spotlighted. The most interesting of these to me was the dazzling, out-of-nowhere, high-wire performance of Bill de Blasio, the free-wheeling, six-foot-seven, progressive populist who shocked New York City’s establishment with his landslide victory, becoming mayor of America’s biggest metropolis.

That was fun, but so was the clown ring, where two performances deserve our attention. First was a bizarre act of political slapstick that played out far from the Big Apple. Coralville, Iowa, with fewer than 20,000 denizens, had the pleasure of publicly kicking the Koch brothers’ kiesters on Election Day! Americans for Prosperity, the chief political arm of the multi-billionaire right-wing extremists, suddenly descended from out of the blue to run a high-dollar campaign against the re-election bids of Coralville’s mayor and two city council members. The Koch group snidely called the little town “Iowa’s version of Detroit.” That was hardly a winning strategy — voters roundly rebuked the rich out-of-towners by voting 2-1 to return all three incumbents to office.

Next came a clown act that was completely odd, troubling, and disgusting.

It took place in (where else?) Texas, where a right wing, white Republican won a seat on Houston’s community college board of trustees from a district that’s predominantly African-American. Dave Wilson literally snuck onto the board by pretending to be black. In his fliers (which had no photos of him, but plenty of smiling African-American faces he took from the internet), Dave claimed to be endorsed by Ron Wilson — a popular black political leader. Actually, though, it was not the black Ron Wilson from Houston who’d endorsed the white Republican. Rather, it was Dave’s own cousin, also named Ron — a white guy who lives in Iowa, nearly 1,000 miles away. How clever is that?

After he “won,” Dave added to his legacy of political integrity by asserting that all politicians are “out there deceiving voters,” so why should he be apologetic?