07 November 2017

He's Not Running For Office: He's Pedaling For The Vote

Why do political candidates "run" for office?

That's a question David John Wilson might ask.

He is one of 16 candidates on the ballot for the mayoralty of Minneapolis, the city that gave us Prince and launched the career of Hubert Humphrey. It's perhaps no surprise that in such a city a candidate--namely Wilson--could run on a "Rainbows Butterflies Unicorns" ticket.

Also not surprising--especially considering that Minneapolis is perennially rated as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the US, and even the world--is that Wilson is conducting his campaign from, if not the seat of his pants, then the saddle of his bicycle.

Most days during his campaign, he has dressed like a unicorn, complete with horns--and American flags.  He calls this persona, if you will, "Votey McVoteface."  He has alternate costumes as well, including one of George Washington.  But, not surprisingly, it's Votey that gets him the most attention.

Creating Votey, and coming up with his platform, was a way of appropriating a term of derision, in much the way young blacks call each other the "n" word or gay man refer to each other, and sometimes themselves, as "faggots".  (Proponents of "queer studies" claim that they are appropriating the "q" word in a similar way.) Wilson says he's often heard the phrase "rainbows, unicorns and butterflies" used to mock people who express ideas and points of view that are progressive, or merely different.

At the start of the campaign, he pledged to ride 1000 miles around the city as Votey.  He admits that he has no chance of winning the election. The purpose of his campaign, he explains, is to "make a difference" by helping to increase voter turnout and getting young people interested in politics:  things he couldn't do in years past, when he worked at the polls.

"I would like to dream that I could be mayor but that's not really what this is about," he says.  "This is about getting out the vote, this is about embracing the city that I love."

In other words, it's not about the destination; it's about the journey:  the way of a cyclist.

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