Remember Sheree Whitfield? The reality diva telegraphed major fabulousity when she first exploded on the pop culture zeitgeist via The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Money, fantastic house, beautiful family and a glam squad that many women would envy. None of it translated into much success. The failed fashion launch. Suing her football player ex-husband for “more coins.” The “acting” lessons which yielded only a cameo on the chitlin’ circuit. Sheree emerged as the epitome of hater after appearing in Kim Zolciak’s wedding as a bridesmaid—and later pulled Kim’s wig during an argument. The piece de resistance: Sheree was fired last season but claimed that “she quit.”
Artur Davis has become the Sheree Whitfield of the Republican Party. This was ridiculously obvious Tuesday night in Tampa as the former Democratic Alabama congressman spoke at the Republican National Convention to nominate Mitt Romney as its presidential candidate. Davis was the first non-Illinois congressman to endorse Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Davis campaigned with Obama and even appeared at the 2008 Democratic National Convention to deliver the nominating speech.
“The last time I spoke at a convention, it turned out I was in the wrong place,” Davis told the overwhelmingly White and social conservative audience in Tampa. “My fellow Republicans, thank you for welcoming me where I belong.”
There is nowhere else for him to go. Davis wants to become the latest high profile “go-to-Negro” in the Republican Party because he was soundly rejected by Black voters in Alabama. Davis hoped to become the first elected Black governor in Alabama’s history in 2010. The not-so-winning strategy: Davis largely ignored Black voters and catered toward Republicans.
Davis was the only one in the 42 member Congressional Black Caucus to oppose the Affordable Care Act. Davis’ majority Black congressional district is one of the poorest in the country and boasts the state’s highest HIV/AIDS rates. Black residents of his former district suffer from low access to hospitals, health care and insurance—and desperately needed health care insurance and protections.
Davis was also the only Black congressman to oppose the historic Employment Non-Discrimination Act vote in 2007, which would have banned anti-gay discrimination by employers. And he was the only Black congressman to oppose extending hate crime protections to gays two years later.
Giving up his gubernetorial dreams, he has moved to Virgina and is thought to be interested in running for Congress” or even the Senate, according to many reports. Davis has also embraced voter suppression laws as his signature issue. Republican-controlled legislatures from coast to coast—most notably in Florida, Texas and Wisconsin—have attempted to pass these laws to suppress voter turnout among Blacks, Latinos and youth. “Giddy at their unexpected good fortune, Republicans awarded Davis a prime speaking slot at the Republican convention,” noted BusinessWeek.
Just like Sheree Whitfield thought her diva-like behavior would never be challenged—“Who’s gonna check me, boo?”—the former congressman boasted Tuesday night about voting against the best interests of his former congressional district. “We don’t need a party that has led while poverty and hunger rose to record levels to give us lectures about suffering,” said Davis to applause.
It takes a certain originality for a Black man to stand before an audience of 50,000 mostly White Republicans and lecture Democrats on “poverty and hunger.” It was the Republican Party that gutted food stamps and child nutrition policy—remember when the Reagan Administration wanted to classify ketchup as a “vegetable” in school lunches? Davis owed his political career to the Voting Rights Act—and it takes even more nerve for him to make suppressing voting rights his signature issue.
“He has no core values, no principles,” said Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy. “He’s a user and a narcissist.”
That description makes Davis the perfect cipher for Mitt Romney and fellow gazillionaires in the Republican Party, which has become ridiculously successful at co-opting poor White, working class voters. The GOP always has room for ambitious and soulless Black opportunists—ask Clarence Thomas and Allen West!—who only serve as tokens and thinly-coated veneers over their bigotry and racism. Good riddance, bad trash, etc.
Rod McCullom has written and produced for ABC News, NBC and FOX, and his writing has appeared in EBONY, The Advocate, The Los Angeles Times and many others. Read his award winning site Rod 2.0. Follow him on Twitter: @RodMcCullom.