"America is a land of second chances, and I gather you have room for the estimated 6 million of us who know we got it wrong in 2008 and who want to fix it," said Artur Davis, who in Denver in 2008 seconded the nomination of Barack Obama for president, and served as co-chairman of his campaign.
Mr. Davis, 44, was reared by his mother in a low-income neighborhood in Montgomery, Ala. He earned a scholarship to Harvard, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1990. After staying at Harvard for a law degree, Mr. Davis became a federal prosecutor. He was elected to Congress in 2002. He ran for governor in 2010, but lost in the Democratic primary.
On Tuesday, Artur Davis spoke again at a national political convention. But this time he was in Tampa with the Republicans, where he explained why he is supporting Mitt Romney for president.
Mr. Obama's reckless spending, Obamacare and his failure to do much about high unemployment have disappointed millions who voted for him in 2008, Mr. Davis said. So have his broken promises about eschewing negative politics.
"Maybe we should have known that night in Denver that things that begin with plywood Greek columns and artificial smoke typically don't end well," he said. "We led with our hearts and our dreams that we could be more inclusive than America had ever been."
Mr. Davis said not a word about race. But more than the role he played in the president's last campaign, it is his race that makes Artur Davis the most significant of disillusioned Obama supporters.
In a 2004 poll, 41 percent of blacks described themselves as conservative. Higher percentages of African-Americans hold conservative views on social issues, crime, illegal immigration and school choice. But customarily, only 8-12 percent vote for the conservative candidate in the general election. If just half the blacks who say they're conservative voted that way, Democrats might never again win the presidency or a majority in Congress.
Black conservatives vote essentially the same as black liberals because "black conservatives with high levels of group consciousness support the party deemed best for the racial group," said Tasha Philpott, a political science professor at the University of Texas, in a paper this year.
Blacks originally became Democrats because of the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt. That racial consciousness is the chief reason they adhere now to the party of slavery and segregation is ironic.
Democrats and their allies in the news media do all they can to promote racial consciousness. Every criticism Republicans make of liberal policies is deemed "racist." Blacks who stray from the plantation are subjected to vicious personal attacks.
Or liberal journalists pretend they don't exist. MSNBC cut away from Mr. Davis' speech, and from the fiery remarks of Mia Love, a beautiful young woman who is striving to become the first black Republican woman in Congress.
Artur Davis didn't mention race, but his critics sure did. His is "an opportunistic Judas conversion," emblematic of "highly visible blacks who are willing to spit on Martin Luther King's dream," said Major Owens, who represented a district in Brooklyn from 1983 to 2007.
Martin Luther King said he had a dream "that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." It isn't Mr. Davis who's spitting on it.
Mr. Davis describes his views as "center-right." A few months ago he re-registered as a Republican because, after its lurch leftward under President Obama, there is no longer room in the Democratic Party for people who think the way he does.
Pay attention to what's said at the Democratic convention in Charlotte, N.C., next week, Mr. Davis counseled moderate Democrats. When speakers talk about growing government despite our massive debt, attack the job creators in the private sector and describe America as "this unequal place where the powerful trample on the powerless ... ask yourself if these Democrats still speak for you."
Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Press and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio. email@example.com, 412 263-1476. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/