You've got one chance, Charlie.
One chance to get it right. One chance to convince the world.
Because you have to know there are doubts out there. Doubts about your motives, and doubts about your sincerity.
When you take the stage at the Democratic National Convention this evening, you will not be viewed as former Gov. Charlie Crist, or onetime Senate candidate Charlie Crist.
You will be the man who abandoned the Republican Party.
Right or wrong, good or bad, that now looms as the signature choice of your career. So, please, don't let your new friends reduce it to some kind of parlor trick tonight.
Don't be their hatchet man. Don't go for the cheap shots. And, above all, don't revise your past to fit the narrative of their convention.
There are already those who see you as an opportunist. A political changeling. They suggest your core beliefs are dictated by the polls, and your only loyalty is to yourself.
This is the night for you to punch holes in that image. Not by promoting yourself or the Democratic Party, but by articulating your view of the nation.
Because, honestly, you have more in common with America than all those sitting in the far-left or far-right corners of any room. Let them shout their insults and their bromides. You stand in the middle and speak softly and sensibly.
The truth is you've always been more pragmatic than dogmatic. That doesn't do much for the hardliners, but it aligns nicely with much of the middle class.
And that should be your appeal this evening. Reach out to those who understand moderation is a virtue. That compromise can be the answer to any number of problems.
After all, governing should not be about winning or losing. It should be about progress and solutions and shared responsibilities.
So you don't have to waste time singling out birthers and their ilk as the hijackers of the Republican platform. And you don't have to point at Mitch McConnell as the epitome of partisan politics gone wrong. You don't have to criticize or demonize.
In fact, if you have any doubt about what to avoid, go back and watch last week's RNC video of former Alabama congressman and Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis. His was a speech of sound bites instead of substance. A novelty act of a former Obama supporter now tossing tired one-liners in the president's direction.
Granted, this idea of high-road and measured politics is not easy to navigate. You've tried a little too hard in the past, and it's created a perception of someone who wants to be everything to everyone.
Consequently, too many Republicans abhor you and not enough Democrats trust you. And the only way to change those perceptions is to be honest.
If that means ticking off some of your old Republican friends, explain your reasoning. If that means not embracing every Democratic ideal, then do not be afraid to say you are still a conservative at heart.
The point is there should be room for disagreement in American politics. There should be room for rational debate and the occasional give-and-take.
There should be room for a Charlie Crist.