It’s not the seat of great power, true, but the strategy Republican Dave Wilson employed to win on the Houston Community College Board of Trustees is ethically indefensible. Wilson, who is a prominent conservative politician who once ran for mayor and who has made a name for himself with anti-gay rhetoric, won a seat on the board by 26 votes after deceiving some less attentive voters in his predominantly African-American district that he was “one of them.
His election materials contained photographs of smiling black faces, lifted off the web, captioned “Please vote for our friend and neighbor Dave Wilson.” One particularly deceitful mailer said he had been “Endorsed by Ron Wilson,” invoking the name of former African-American state representative. But just like the ads and TV commercials for weight loss products, Dave Wilson’s flier contained fine print that made the misrepresentation “honest.” Instead of “Results not typical,” the campaign flier’s tiny disclaimer said, “Ron Wilson and Dave Wilson are cousins,” a reference to one of Wilson’s relatives living in Iowa who is also named “Ron.”
Wilson can be safely accorded status as a fick*—he is openly amused by the fact that his lie assisted in his election, and shows no remorse at all. He also invokes the “everybody does it” rationalization, saying, “Every time a politician talks, he’s out there deceiving voters.” The news media and the blogosphere is joyfully flogging Wilson for his stunt, and he deserves every lash. The episode, however raises some uncomfortable ethical issues that require objective thought and consideration: Continue reading