How does someone who went as far as he did make the change he made? When one speaks to Mr. Davis, it becomes quite clear that he is a very thoughtful and principled man. He decided that he was elected as a Democrat and should remain in the party while in office. But once outside of the political arena, he had a chance to step back, engage in some serious reflection, and analyze where he stood. What he discovered was that the party he had joined was not what he had thought. Davis found the Democrats to be a party that has become “narrower and narrower,” and he characterized it as a “monolithic party.”
After a period of reflection, Davis became a Republican. Because prominent Black officials such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice have been called Uncle Toms just for being Republicans, one might think Davis to be unusually courageous. He dismisses such compliments, maintaining that what he did was just common sense.
Davis told me that he hasn’t suffered retribution from Democrats and has been warmly welcomed and strongly supported by Republicans. More importantly, his perspective of how he is viewed reflects his experience. He feels that as a Democrat, he was treated as part of a group – Black Americans – but as a Republican, he is perceived as an individual and treated as a person.
Would Davis’s change of party matter as much if he were not Black? No. But it has more meaning than the fact that he was an early endorser of Obama and has turned his back on the President’s party. He offers two things to the Republicans: first, an individual that minority groups perceive as one of their own who can eloquently argue the principles of the party. Second, Davis very effectively makes a case that Republicans can win the Black vote by promoting initiatives to change their lives through reform-oriented, free-market Republican policies. As an example, he cites Governor Bobby Jindal’s efforts to reform schools in Louisiana: 75% of those affected are Blacks. Republicans have a lot of room to appeal to Blacks and Davis can help guide them there.
Usually when a politician changes parties it is a craven political move. It often happens after their party has lost the majority, while in a reelection mode or when they’re promised plum committee assignments. Artur Davis changed parties for all the right reasons, and Republicans should embrace him warmly and give serious thought to his ideas about appealing to Black voters.
It appears that Americans will be hearing much more from this very capable man.