the national interest

Artur Davis Is Latest Betrayed Democrat

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 28: Former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Today is the first full session of the RNC after the start was delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Photo: Mark Wilson/2012 Getty Images

The outraged speech by a Democrat castigating his party for abandoning its sensible moderation for knee-jerk, America-hating liberalism has become a proud Republican National Convention tradition. In 2004, Georgia Democrat Zell Miller wailed, “What has happened to the party I’ve spent my life working in?” Four years later, Joe Lieberman delivered that speech. Tonight it was Artur Davis.

Josh Green’s new profile explains the basic story of Davis, a promising black Democratic member of Congress who endorsed Barack Obama early in the 2008 election cycle, then became deluded into thinking he could win statewide office in Alabama. The task was utterly hopeless – no black Democrat could ever win statewide office in Alabama – but Davis veered right in the hope of making himself acceptable to conservatives, only to wind up losing his party’s nomination in the process.

Now Davis has moved to Virginia and switched parties, in the obvious realization that this offers his only avenue for political advancement. Charlie Crist, a moderate Republican who switched parties and will speak at the Democratic convention next week, made a similar calculation the other way. My dream would be to wake them in the middle of the night and urgently inform them that a communist military coup has seized power in Washington, and urge them to immediately start writing a speech pledging themselves to the people’s revolution. I could just see it. (“The Republican Party, to which I used to belong, used to stand for smashing the bourgeoisie. Sadly, they have become enemies of the people …”)

Davis’s very earnest denunciation of his former party spanned the general gamut of Republican talking points, a full-scale repudiation of his former beliefs. Perhaps his most entertaining claim is that the old, virtuous Democratic Party used to meet the other party in the middle, in contrast to Obama “ramming through” the health care bill. The president he cited for having done so, the president Davis thinks would never “ram through” a bill in Congress, was Lyndon Johnson. I would urge paramedics to immediately check up on Robert Caro.

Artur Davis Is Latest Betrayed Democrat