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Former Congressman and Obama Ally Artur Davis Weighs Political a Republican


"Wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities"

(Photo: Artur Davis)

Artur Davis was once described as "the Obama of Alabama."  A former congressman in the state, he was considered a rising star in the Democratic Party after his early endorsement of Barack Obama in 2008, and was even mentioned as a possible attorney general for the current administration.

However, the Harvard-educated lawyer has seemingly been growing disenchanted for several years. He openly criticized Obama's signature healthcare legislation, and was one of very few Democrats to actually vote against it.

Now, Davis is officially crossing the Rubicon in announcing that, if he chooses to run for office again, it will be as a Republican.

He wrote on his website Tuesday:

[Parties] change. As I told a reporter last week,this is not Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party (and he knows that even if he can’t say it).  If you have read this see the imperfect musings of a voter who describes growth as a deeper problem than exaggerated inequality; who wants to radically reform the way we educate our children; who despises identity politics and the practice of speaking for groups and not one national interest; who knows that our current course on entitlements will eventually break our solvency and cause us to break promises to our most vulnerable—that is,if we don’t start the hard work of fixing it.

On the specifics, I have regularly criticized an agenda that would punish businesses and job creators with more taxes just as they are trying to thrive again. I have taken issue with an administration that has lapsed into a bloc by bloc appeal to group grievances when the country is already too fractured: frankly, the symbolism of Barack Obama winning has not given us the substance of a united country. You have also seen me write that faith institutions should not be compelled to violate their teachings because faith is a freedom, too. You’ve read that in my view, the law can’t continue to favor one race over another in offering hard-earned slots in colleges: America has changed, and we are now diverse enough that we don’t need to accommodate a racial spoils system. And you know from these pages that I still think the way we have gone about mending the flaws in our healthcare system [in] the wrong way—it goes further than we need and costs more than we can bear.

Taken together, these are hardly the enthusiasms of a Democrat circa 2012, and they wouldn’t be defensible in a Democratic primary. But they are the thoughts and values of ten years of learning, and seeing things I once thought were true fall into disarray. So, if I were to leave the sidelines, it would be as a member of the Republican Party that is fighting the drift in this country in a way that comes closest to my way of thinking: wearing a Democratic label no longer matches what I know about my country and its possibilities. [Emphasis added]

Davis concludes by warning that he likely couldn't satisfy a typical Democrat or Republican "litmus test."  He concludes:

A voter and a columnist have all the freedom in the world to say these things; perhaps a candidate does, too.  Should I ever cross that bridge again, I will be trusting voters more than ever (despite having seen how wrong they can get it!) to test ability more than rigid ideology, and to accept that experience changes minds (if it is so in our lives, why shouldn’t it be so in our politics?) I might well decide that all of that is asking too much, and that party demands too much for a guy who doesn’t fit a partisan caricature. Or I might someday not so far off say, “Let the people decide.” Stay tuned.
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