With an apparent abundance of free time, energy secretary and adult human Rick Perry has taken to condemning student body president elections at Texas A&M. In an op-ed for The Houston Chronicle, Perry accuses the school of rigging the election in the name of diversity. Feel free to look it up, but I’m not going to provide a link; giving any more credence to the man 12th in line to be president complaining about college politics seems perverse.
For those who haven’t been following the minutiae of Texas academia, here’s the story. A&M student Robert McIntosh won the election by a sizable margin, but was disqualified for allegations of voter intimidation. Bobby Brooks, the second-place candidate, received the title instead. McIntosh appealed his disqualification to a student committee, and while the committee found there wasn’t enough evidence for the intimidation charges, there was proof that McIntosh failed to disclose some campaign expenses, and so Brooks remains president. Because Brooks is openly gay, conservatives like Perry think the whole thing was a sinister plot for the sake of diversity.
Look, this is clearly not the ideal way to win an election, even one as inconsequential as student body president. And while I’m grimly laughing that a Trump appointee is mad the second-place candidate got to be president, it also means I can understand how frustrating it is to see straightforward democracy overturned on technicalities. But the election I’m still sore about will define the policy of the world’s last superpower for years to come. The one Perry is bemoaning will negotiate meal plan prices at a single school for a single year.
This is why the debate over “diversity” or “political correctness” is so exasperating: the right trawls for insignificant victories, cheap “Gotcha!” moments with absolutely no sense of scale, all while real injustice goes unchecked. In the aftermath of the election, Brooks publicly received homophobic slurs, which is the real story here, one that links a specific college experience to a wider structure, something with far more power and blood than diversity. That people immediately attack a gay student’s orientation when they’re angry with him is much more consequential than who gets to decide what’s in a campus vending machine. But Perry’s more worried that some student committee somewhere made the wrong choice, even if that choice doesn’t matter at all.