Artur Davis and the crucial role of party switchers

What the critics failed to understand is that Davis’s address, unlike Zell Miller’s, was not about making an ethnic or regional appeal. Rather, he served as a stand-in for a kind of upwardly mobile, aspirational voter you’ll find in many American communities. Davis was raised in humble circumstances in West Montgomery, Alabama. But he also attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where he proved an academic success. He later returned to Alabama to serve as a prosecutor. In those years, he embraced the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, and in particular the pragmatic centrism of Bill Clinton. Unlike most elite-educated professionals of his vintage, he didn’t embrace a hard-edged social liberalism. He tried to find ways to reconcile left and right and white and black, and he saw Clinton’s message of hope, growth and opportunity as the right way to do it…

The really interesting question about Davis’s political future is whether the GOP will become the party of Daniels and Christie and Jeb Bush or, as its critics allege, something narrower, angrier and more ideological. Davis has made it clear that he believes conservatives should seek to reform and improve government as well as contain its growth. This is a conviction widely shared among real-world Republicans. Yet apart from the aforementioned governors, all of whom have their idiosyncrasies, it has few convincing champions in the Republican political class, least of all in Congress.