Archived Opinion

Cawthorn is off to a bad start

Cawthorn is off to a bad start

To the Editor:

As one of Mr. Madison Cawthorn’s constituents in the 11th District, I wish to inform him that I find his recent words and actions with regard to the presidential election to be beyond troubling.

It appears to me that Mr. Cawthorn has been an active participant in promoting blatant falsehoods about “voter fraud” in America, and that he has supported all of the clearly — and repeatedly — debunked claims by President Trump that the election was “stolen” from him, that he actually won in a landslide, that election officials in select states cheated and participated in some sort of massive conspiracy to cheat Trump — and Trump alone — out of a win. Those are all lies, but Mr. Cawthorn has willingly trumpeted those lies, and I wonder why?

It is understandable why Trump would want to whine and lie about the fact that he lost. After all, he was the one who felt the agony of defeat and simply couldn’t accept the fact that he had lost — fair and square — after appealing to the courts, after demanding and obtaining recounts and state audits, after exhausting all legal means of demonstrating that he actually won. Trump is just a sore loser, obviously.

But, why does Mr. Cawthorn wish to make such egregious claims? There are only two possible truthful answers to that question:

• He actually believes all of the convoluted, ridiculous conspiracy theories (Qanon, etc.).

• Or, he is making a political calculation that supporting Trump, regardless of the truth of anything, will pay dividends for him in his nascent political career.

As an older member of Mr. Cawthorn’s constituency I will suggest to him very strongly that neither of those answers will play out very well for him.

If he currently does believe in the existence of a massive, decades old, “deep state” conspiracy, then that will become his all-consuming issue, and his base of support will eventually consist of no one other than a narrow sliver of Qanon true believers. Oh, they’re here in the mountains, for sure, but there are a lot more of us who find their beliefs nutty at best.

And if he made the political calculation that it would serve him well to be closely linked with Trump, I think that’s already starting to blow up in his face. I see this morning, for example, that Mr. Cawthorn is now trying to shift the blame for the horrendous actions of the mob on Jan. 6, 2021, away from himself and onto Mr. Trump alone, even though both of them proudly egged on the protestors to do more than just stand there — to “fight.” Madison Cawthorn isn’t going to be any more successful at having things both ways than Donald Trump is. It was Abraham Lincoln who allegedly said that all the people can’t be fooled all of the time. It was true then. It’s still true today.

So, at this very early point in his political career — at a point when most people his age are just entering the workforce and learning valuable lessons in real life — Madison Cawthorn is dealing with the heady thrill of being a member of Congress. What he does in the next few days and weeks, however, is going to determine his ultimate fate as a member of that body and as a political figure in North Carolina and the nation.

A healthy dose of humility, an admission of culpability for his part in spreading the mistruths and outlandish conspiracy theories that helped turn a “protest” into a mob scene, a bit of sincere remorse (maybe starting with a public apology to his fellow members of Congress for calling them “cowards” while encouraging the crowd to “fight”), and a statement of his determination to focus on and to do his best to represent ALL of his constituents (followed by some concrete actions demonstrating the sincerity of that statement) might help Mr. Cawthorn survive his shambolic entrance into government.

Failing in that, Mr. Cawthorn’s allotted 15 seconds of fame will be reduced to less than a nanosecond, and deservedly so.

John Sanderson


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