The former Democratic congressman is a threat to his old party.
“The Obama I endorsed was the constitutional-law professor who said he supported the rule of law,” Davis explained to me. “Instead, we got someone who always went to the left whenever he reached a fork in the road.” Now Davis spends a
A major reason Republicans have embraced Davis with such enthusiasm is the manner in which he abandoned liberalism. He wrote an op-ed piece for his hometown newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser, in October 2011, endorsing a voter-ID law being debated in the Alabama legislature.
Requiring a photo ID in order to vote may be supported by a large majority of Americans — 74 percent in the latest Washington Post poll (including 65 percent of African Americans) — but it has been portrayed by liberal elites as a discriminatory tool designed to suppress black turnout.
One of those voices was Bill Clinton, who in July 2011 excoriated the nationwide movement to pass voter-ID laws as the return of Jim Crow. “There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax, and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.”
Davis took his party’s former president on. He wrote: “I was disappointed to see Bill Clinton, a very good president and an even greater ex-president, compare voter ID to Jim Crow, and it is chilling to see the intimidation tactics brought to bear on African-American, Democratic legislators in Rhode Island who had the nerve to support a voter ID law in that very liberal state.”
The former congressman had real credibility in blowing the whistle on this preposterous rhetoric. The two-thirds black district Davis had represented from 2003 to 2011 included Selma, home of the National Voting Rights Museum, and other landmarks of the 1960s struggle for racial equality and voting rights. He had been an active member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and his career had begun with an internship at the Southern Poverty Law Center, an iconic civil-rights group.
So it was startling to read Davis’s mea culpa:
I’ve changed my mind on voter ID laws — I think Alabama did the right thing in passing one — and I wish I had gotten it right when I was in political office. When I was a congressman, I took the path of least resistance on this subject for an African American politician. Without any evidence to back it up, I lapsed into the rhetoric of various partisans and activists who contend that requiring photo identification to vote is a suppression tactic aimed at thwarting black voter participation.Davis recognized that the “most aggressive” voter suppression in the African-American community “is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.” A predominantly black region in Alabama known for its dark, rich soil, the Black Belt comprises some of the poorest counties in the state — and some of the most prone to voter fraud.
“Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights — that’s suppression by any light,” continued Davis in his op-ed. “If you doubt it exists, I don’t; I’ve heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I’ve been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed a few close local election results.”