This article is written in anticipation of MOU’s fundraising event on September 19. The headliner is Artur Davis, a new member of the Republican Party and a solid African-American leader. These words are meant to ensure everyone has an understanding of who Davis is in order to appreciate the decisions he has made.
When Christopher Arps, founder of Move-On-Up, first announced that Artur Davis would be the headliner for the major MOU event for CBC week, TOC admits that he was not terribly familiar with Davis’s history. I knew that Davis had recently switched parties (from Democrat to Republican) and was considering returning to politics in Virginia, but I was not aware of much more than that. I have to admit that I was a bit cynical at first when Davis switched parties. Was this the African-American version of Arlen Specter, the US Senator from Pennsylvania that switched sides just to save his career? Further research provided a much different picture, a picture of a man that stands on principles and a story that gives a microcosm of what is wrong with politics, but also, a glimpse of what true leadership looks like.
Davis is a graduate of the Harvard Law School. After graduating and servings as a US attorney, he ran for US Congress in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District and lost in 2000. He ran again in 2002 and won the seat. He would go on to win the seat again in the 2004, 2006 and 2008 elections. It was Davis that was an early endorser of Barack Obama for President – even before the Iowa primary, before a majority of the CBC membership jumped on the endorsement bandwagon and before Barack Obama was even considered a viable pick to beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. Davis clearly felt that Obama was endorsable based on principle, not the usual quid pro quo that comes in politics. During this time, Davis also saw his stature in the US House rise, gaining several key appointments and assignments. He also played a pivotal role in the 2008 National Convention, providing the seconding speech for then-Senator Obama’s nomination for President. Davis’s star was rising in the Democratic Party, and many began to compare his path to that of Obama.
While it is clear that Davis’s previous politics did not line up with those of the conservative, it is clear that he was driven by his principles. These principles sometimes are a double-edged sword. They can bring fortune as well as attack and scorn. After the election of the President, that is exactly what happened. What makes Davis special is that he never abandoned his principles, even when doing so would have been beneficial to his campaign.
After the inauguration of President Obama, Davis decided to not support the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Davis had no other possible motivations for doing this other than his principles, his belief that supporting the bill would not be beneficial to the people of the 7th Congressional District of Alabama or the country as a whole. This created a rift between him and his party. Of course, this is the same party that “promotes” diversity of thought and states that it is for the African-American. If that is the case, why was this particular African-American not allowed to vote his conscious? He had no other reason to vote against the bill, as it would not have been beneficial for him politically. Davis’s troubles with the Democratic Party continued when he announced his candidacy for Governor of Alabama. Davis was abandoned by the Democratic Party as they backed the more liberal Ron Sparks for the Democratic nomination. This point is critical: The Democratic Party, which is supposedly the party of civil rights, chose to abandon the capable Davis, an African-American, for Ron Sparks, a white man. Imagine how strong of a symbol it would have been for an African-American hold the same office as the avid racist George Wallace. The party was willing to give up supporting an African-American to hold that position in order to enforce unquestioned loyalty to party. For me, this alone proves that the Democratic Party manipulates race and racial disparities for its gain. The hypocrisy of not supporting Davis in such a symbolic endeavor because he did not “fall in line” is incredible.
Davis, after his defeat by Sparks for the nomination, announced he was switching parties and retiring. That is another shame in all of this. Just as I covered in a previous post, Democrats have no problem ending the political careers of prominent African-American up-and-comers that do not fall completely “in-line.” How could this even stand when Democrats make all of their claims of being the party for African-Americans? In that previous discussion, I discussed another moderate Democrat, Harold Ford Jr. from Tennessee who moved to New York and floated the idea of running for Kirsten Gillibrand’s US Senate seat. Due to his lack of complete support for the pro-choice position of the party, he received no support from the Obama White House (which instead made it clear they would support Gillibrand).
Principles are doing what you feel is right, even if doing so will not benefit you personally. That is the story of Davis (and of Ford, Jr.). The party that claims it promotes African-Americans now has lost one of its best future leaders and has forced another one to watch from the sidelines. As a conservative, TOC is more than pleased to see Davis, a man of integrity, move to the right side of the aisle. Davis has played with the idea of getting back into politics and was a big hit at the 2012 RNC. TOC had two opportunities to hear him speak there and was deeply moved. Now that I know the story of Davis, I feel blessed that he is still involved and look forward to following his journey from this point forward.