Artur Davis at 2012 RNC (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

True the Vote has come under quite a bit of fire lately, but if it were left to former Rep. Artur Davis, the organization would continue unfazed. Brentin Mock, voting-rights expert, discusses in the Nation Davis' decision to step away from President Obama's camp, and how he's now appreciated in the Republican party, especially by those concerned about accusations of racism when it comes to voter-ID laws.

Four years ago, Davis spoke at the Democratic National Convention. In late August, the former Democratic congressman and gubernatorial candidate spoke at the Republican National Convention instead. His transformation, and the message he carries, have been eagerly promoted by those who are pushing the voter fraud narrative, all facts notwithstanding.

As I listened to Davis speak in Houston, I remembered a similar summit I attended in 2006, which was organized by "Patriot" and "Minutemen" groups. These tea party predecessors were transparent about not only their anti-immigrant stances, but their hostility towards Latinos in general. They used a lot of the same language as today's tea party groups, like "taking back America" and "restoring America's heritage." And like True the Vote, they had a couple of black speakers at their summit who absolved the otherwise all-white movement of racism charges.

Most of those Patriot and Minutemen groups dissolved, just before the rise of Obama. But in 2010, tea party groups that look and sound just like them emerged, better organized and better funded. Many are just as far to the right as their predecessors, but on race specifically they use softer language. They proclaim that they just want to help improve government, and are offended by charges that they threaten black and Latino people. Their politics are not racist, they say, and if you don't believe them, just ask Artur Davis.


Read Brentin Mock's entire piece at the Nation.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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