I’m reading a Robert Ludlum novel — hey, I need a break from the news — but it resonated for me on Artur Davis’ vote against the healthcare reform bill.
His staff, and I guess Artur, is up in arms about my Sunday column.
The basic concept behind the Ludlum novel is a bad guy who is seeking good. He has a computer that calculates future events, and those calculations suggest he should occasionally kill good people. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death was a tragedy, as a character puts it, but his death created a martyr and tremendous good resulted.
Artur found a way to vote against the healthcare reform bill — which thankfully passed despite his vote — and after reading his voluminous discussion on the issue, and after speaking to his frustrated aide, I remain convinced his vote was motivated by his candidacy for Alabama governor. He wants to be governor, he’s convinced his affirmative vote for healthcare reform would brand him a liberal, and he fears that’s not a brand that works in Alabama.
The question is whether ends justify means. In the Ludlum book, a computer program made clear that killing good people would result in social benefits. Artur Davis is not wielding a Glock, but he is facing similar issues.
My guess is the congressman wants the best for his constituents. I would also guess that he sees, correctly, that Alabama has managed incredible success at subjugating the low and middle class, especially in his district. The upper crust has managed to recruit those they subjugate, a fact I suspect Davis understands.
The issue is whether Davis should pretend he is something he is not. I suspect he is pursuing a Trojan-horse strategy. ‘I’ll pretend to be a moderate, and then as governor I will help the downtrodden.’
While I support his goal, I fear his path will fail because it is deceptive. Voters want honesty. Davis’ vote against healthcare reform was not just dishonest, it betrayed his struggling constituents. Ron Sparks is convinced, maybe with the help of contributors, that gambling and the lottery will solve every Alabama woe. At least among Democrat gubernatorial candidates, an honest Davis would look great.
In Ludlum’s novel, excessive reliance on intellect creates evil. A man motivated by good ignores simplistic ethics and does bad. Davis has the intellect Alabama needs; he has the right goals. He needs to remember that ethics and honesty, however, are simplistic.
Artur Davis is extremely intelligent, and his goals are consistent with most Alabamians. He needs to trust Alabamians to vote for him because of his beliefs, and he needs to fear how voters will react if they see him as a Trojan horse.