Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Arthur Davis' Party Realignment May Signal Larger Shift in African American Views


Whenever I hear about another politician switching parties I am always skeptical.  Nine time out of ten it seems they are always doing it for political expediency and not as a result of a philosophical awakening.  Such was the case with Arlen Specter, Joe Lieberman and Jumpin' Jim Jeffords.  The latest politician to have an epiphany is Alabama congressmen Arthur Davis.

What is so interesting about Davis's jump isn't that it was from the Democrats to the Republicans, it is that Davis was a staunch support of Obama's in 2008.  In fact, Davis was the very first congressmen to come out an endorse Obama for president.  On the issue of endorsing Obama Davis told The Roots magazine, "I really believed that Barack Obama being elected would change race in this country. I believed that it would change the way we regarded each other around racial lines. And I believed that it would make this the kind of country where African Americans could aspire to hold office without their color being a disqualifier."

He went on to explain how that very issue drove him to the other side, "Well, that didn't happen. The opposite happened. The country's become more racially polarized. Race is probably more of a barrier today than it was four years ago, and the party has moved in a leftward direction that is far less inclusive ideologically than it used to be. Those things diminished my enthusiasm over time. So, like many people who get the opposite of what they vote for, they ultimately begin to be sympathetic to the other side and hear other arguments."

Finally, Davis explains why the future for black Americans lays with the Republican Party:
One thing is happening in the Republican Party that the Democratic Party can't say: African Americans who don't live in African-American communities are having a chance to serve their country at the political level. That includes Allen West in a white district in Florida; Tim Scott in a white district in South Carolina; and Mia Love, a 36-year-old black woman running for Congress in a Utah district that has virtually no black people.
These individuals are going to be examples of people of color holding office, having a chance to serve their country, without their race disqualifying them. As younger African Americans see that these people are having a chance to participate in the debate in this country, even though most people in their communities don't look like them or share their backgrounds, I think that's going to become a point of attraction for a lot of African Americans under 35. 
Because what they want is to live in a country that doesn't start the conversation with, "You're black, so therefore you have to live in this kind of community to hold office. You have to have this kind of point of view to be relevant or be taken seriously. You have to do this to earn your stripes."

Many younger African Americans want to be Americans who have a chance to thrive based on their ability. That's going to be the biggest selling point for the Republican Party in the next 10 years, and that's going to get the interest of a lot of younger African Americans.

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