Davis not looking out for constituents’ best interests

Published 12:27 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It seems that in a post-racial America the best way for a black candidate to demonstrate he’s a viable candidate for statewide office is to go out of his way to take positions against black interests.

Case in point: Artur Davis (who is currently running for Governor in Alabama) and his recent vote AGAINST the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The purpose of the bill is to provide Federal assistance to states and local jurisdictions to prosecute hate crimes.

Considering that Davis represents Alabama’s Black Belt, the ancestral home of hate crimes, you would think he would support such a bill. Well, actually, he did support it two years ago when he voted FOR hate crimes legislation. But, I guess that was before he was trying to run for Governor and before he realized he could use some of those KKK votes.

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In a recent statement released after his vote against the current bill, Davis “explains” what influenced his decision. He says, “Some wonder why, in a culture that rejects violence against any human being, we should say that an attack on a black, or a woman, or a gay individual should be punished more severely than an attack on someone who happens to be a senior citizen, or a soldier or a teacher. Others ask why some motives based on certain ideas should be punished by our criminal laws more aggressively than others.

It’s frightening that Congressman Davis is utterly unprepared, or unwilling, to answer those questions. But in the spirit of cooperation, I’m offering to help him the next time he gets such questions from his constituents. Just send them my way, and I’ll gladly provide answers to their questions.

For starters, I’ll explain that the law has always taken the intent of perpetrator into account — thus the difference between manslaughter and murder, or negligence and fraud. There is nothing inconsistent about saying that some motives need to be dealt with more aggressively than others. And, when those motives are driven by intentional and vile feelings of hatred, towards not just one person but an entire group, then we need make no apologies for treating those crimes more harshly than an individual and random act of violence.

Of course, this is not the first time that Davis has voted against the Democratic House leadership. In fact, during his first four years in Congress, prior to the Democratic takeover in 2006, he would routinely vote with the Republicans, going against the interests of his constituents in the process. Perhaps the most notable example of this was his 2004 vote for the infamous bankruptcy bill that made it harder for folks to get debts wiped away. The Republican-sponsored bill was seen as a huge victory for credit card and finance companies. Again, considering that Davis represents one of the poorest districts in the country — a district plagued by pay day loans and predatory lending — you would think he would have fought against such a bill. But when your convictions change according to the political winds, and your ambitions have you looking beyond your current constituents, the least of these usually suffer.