Artur Davis and Charlie Crist star in 'The Party-switchers Game'

Switchers lend a bipartisan sheen to a political party during the conventions, perhaps the most partisan affairs of the year. That's why Artur Davis will speak at the GOP convention, and Charlie Crist at the Democrats'.

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/File
In this 2010 photo, then-candidate for the US Senate and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist addresses the Florida Realtors Candidate Forum at the Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla.

Political conventions juggle two competing objectives: firing up the party faithful, and presenting an appealing face to undecided voters who are only beginning to tune in to the presidential race. This year's political conventions will both feature prime speaking roles for people who can help their parties achieve those dual goals: party switchers.

It’s OK, party switchers announce to the world, to change your mind and join the other team. For the home team, partisan defectors offer the fulfillment of a fantasy held by every die-hard politico since seventh-grade civics: convincing someone of another political persuasion to join your side.

For undecided voters, the switchers give a bipartisan sheen to a political party amid what is perhaps the most partisan affair of the year.

On Tuesday night, the GOP will feature former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama. Mr. Davis will take the podium just a few speakers before the much-heralded address of Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and the keynote speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

For Republicans, having Mr. Davis at their dais in 2012 is particularly sweet: He seconded Barack Obama’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 2008.

Davis was a conservative Democrat during his tenure in the House, where he was among those who voted against Mr. Obama’s signature health-care reform law. However, he all but abandoned the party after he came up short in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in his home state.  

After Davis's speech, Republicans will lay on the “it’s OK to change your mind” theme with a testimonial video about three voters who supported Obama in 2008 but have shifted to Mitt Romney in 2012.

But Republicans aren't the only ones getting in on the switcheroo fun. Former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida endorsed Obama on Sunday and will speak at the Democratic National Convention next week.

And in the video tit for tat, the liberal "super PAC" Priorities USA released an advertisement featuring a Massachusetts small-business owner named Olive Chase, who supported Mr. Romney for governor but supports Obama for president.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.