Cawthorn Takes a Hard-Right Turn – Smoky Mountain News

9August 2020

Charismatic, telegenic, social media-savvy and deeply rooted in the region, the Hendersonville native delighted in the nationwide news reports that, if elected, he would become one of the youngest individuals ever sent to Congress and a bridge to his celebration’s future.

“Move over AOC,” asserts a cartoonish video on his campaign website where his smiling photo shoves aside one of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 31-year-old favorite of the Democratic left understood widely as AOC.

Cawthorn told a New york city Times interviewer that he was encouraged to look for workplace “since I think there’s a generational time bomb going off in the Republican politician Celebration … I believe we have actually not been striving enough to really connect and try to appeal to younger citizens and we’re beginning to see the ramifications of that in nationwide elections.”

However if those words seem to presage a campaign message that would inject a new, more youthful method of believing in his party, it isn’t evident in his basic election project. Considering that claiming the nomination, Cawthorn has campaigned as a hard-right conservative on policies aligned with the party base of older white citizens rather than those expressed by his Gen Z and millennial peers in numerous polls.

Gone from his site is a boast that, by trouncing primary-rival Lynda Bennett in spite of her endorsements from President Trump and previous incumbent Mark Meadows, he had shown his independence from the Washington, D.C.-based Republican elite.

Newly prominent is the mantra that he is “pro-Trump, pro-life and pro-2nd Change.” He populates his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts with videos of his Washington, D.C. conferences with Trump and other long-time GOP leaders.

These sign up with earlier pictures of the ever-upbeat boy bearing assault-style weapons, a tribute to the 2nd Modification (which, he declares, makes possible the 1st Change’s assurances) and occasional Bible verses. A home-schooled evangelical Christian, he states he believes in “faith, family & & flexibility” and pledges to oppose “leftist seaside elites like Nancy Pelosi and AOC.”

Now, like Trump, he typically flouts C.D.C., state and White Home standards for combating the spread of Covid-19. A number of the project looks featured on his social networks pages– consisting of a video with President Trump, Meadows, Rudy Giuliani and other senior Republicans last month at the Trump International Hotel– portray Cawthorn and most of the other individuals overlooking social distancing and face covering mandates. (Cawthorn’s campaign didn’t respond to AVL Guard dog’s ask for comment on this practice).

Intentionally or accidentally, Cawthorn uses or has actually displayed some signs associated with such right-wing extremists as Alex Jones– proponent of the exposed conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook primary school’s mass killing was staged– and of white nationalists, consisting of some participating in the notorious Charlottesville “Join the White” demonstration.

And he has dismissed as “divisive” and “racist” the Asheville City Council’s recent choice to establish policies of reparations for African Americans. “Six-hundred thousand Americans provided their lives to free servants and you’re going to inform me that’s insufficient?” he said in an interview with Blue Ridge Public Radio reporter Cory Vaillancourt, a reply that overlooks both the century-long effect of Jim Crow laws and the fact that 260,000 of the soldiers who passed away in the Civil War were Confederates fighting to keep slavery.

Taken as a whole, far from campaigning as the Pied Piper for a brand-new Republican generation, Cawthorn’s technique appears to take pages from the Trump and Meadows playbook by appealing mainly to the older, white, conservative base in the 11th congressional district’s 18 counties consisting of Buncombe and Henderson.

Western North Carolina University political science teacher Chris Cooper sees some logic in this method due to the fact that Trump carried these counties in 2016 with 57 percent of the vote. Nevertheless, Cooper included an interview with AVL Guard dog, the method also brings danger: “His base is going to vote for him anyway. But the biggest group of citizens in the 11th [congressional district] is unaffiliated with either political party and they might be pushed away by the hard-right rhetoric.”

Since the 2016 election, federal courts purchased the GOP-gerrymandered district to be redrawn to consist of all of Buncombe, significantly diluting its Republican dominance. Registered Republicans still surpass Democrats by more than 2 to one in the brand-new district, but voters unaffiliated with either celebration now comprise about 52 percent of the overall eligible vote. Although independent analysts continue to rank the district as “solid” Republican, a landslide shift by these unaffiliated voters could switch the district into the Democratic column.

Yet despite Cawthorn’s expressed ambition to defuse the GOP’s “generational time bomb,” Cooper said, “he’s not reaching out to next-generation citizens in his policy positions.”

That, too, makes political sense for him. Numerous nationwide surveys of younger voters hint problem for Republican candidates starting with Trump. The 2020 Harvard Institute of Politics Youth Survey, the nation’s oldest and biggest study of 18 to 29-year-olds, discovered simply 22 percent said they identified with the GOP– half of those “not really strong.” And by a 2-1 margin, these young Americans disapproved of the task being done by Trump and Republicans in Congress. (The survey was completed in March, prior to the complete impact of the pandemic, which likely cut more into Trump and the GOP’s favorability.)

Many polls also reveal Cawthorn out of step with the large majority of his generational peers on at least two of the problems central to his project: openly financed healthcare and the capability to own assault weapons. The Youth Survey found in 2019 that 53 percent of these young Americans would ban the sale of attack weapons while 30 percent oppose a ban. In the 2020 study, simply 2 percent of the younger Americans even listed protection of weapon rights as a concern of issue.

On health care, 63 percent of those surveyed prefer a government-funded program, while simply 16 percent oppose such government participation. In an interview with New york city Times reporter Maggie Astor after capturing the GOP election, Cawthorn revealed frustration that Republicans failed to reverse the Affordable Care Act in 2017 in spite of holding the White House and both chambers of Congress. He stated that, if chosen, he would work to “eliminate a great deal of the regulations in the healthcare industry” and would “bring in a few more insurer [to] open up more competitors.”

When the reporter asked where he differs from older Republican lawmakers, he responded: “I believe the location where we really do differ is that I think I can carry the message of conservatism in a way that does not appear so abrasive– that has better product packaging, I would say, better messaging.”

Cawthorn likewise said he has drawn life lessons from the near-fatal injuries sustained when he was a traveler in an SUV that crashed in 2014. The injuries needed months of treatment, thwarted his ambition to go into the Marine Corps by means of Annapolis and requires him to use a wheelchair. Among the lessons, he told Astor, are persistence to pursue goals despite challenges and empathy for “people who are disenfranchised, individuals who feel like society’s left them all alone.”

The question facing his campaign is whether a new “product packaging” of conservative policies– though effective in the GOP primary– can win enough of the unaffiliated to be chosen. Up until now, Cawthorn is sticking with the existing GOP messaging on immigration, China, the coronavirus and civil demonstration in the wake of the George Floyd protests. And rather than discovering material in his public speeches and media remarks to recommend empathy for “individuals who are disenfranchised,” there is a great deal that strikes his online critics as being not just abrasive, but extremist.

A prominent source of social-media discussion is the corporate name of Cawthorn’s real-estate investment firm, SPQR Holdings, LLC. The initials SPQR stem from the Latin initials for “the Senate and People of Rome,” which signified the Roman empire at its height and today appears widely on Italian traveler trinkets. However in recent years SPQR has actually been welcomed by skinhead gangs in Italy and by some white nationalists in the United States. Banners with those initials were carried by white supremacists during the “Join the White” presentations and were later on singled out by the Southern Poverty Law Center as symbolizing a hate group.

Vassar College Teacher Curtis Dozier, who studies the modern-day appropriation of classical signs such as SPQR, said in an interview with AVL Guard dog that some white nationalists use the symbol to denote “racial and cultural purity” and to glorify cultures of “military and violence.”

Although Cawthorn declined to be talked to about his use of SPQR in his company, he offered a written declaration calling it simply “a term for Rome” and denouncing efforts “by extremists on any side to hijack or reword history” by connecting other significances to it.

He added that this nation’s Establishing Dads were influenced by such Roman statesmen as the theorist Cicero who cautioned against authoritarian policies, which Cawthorn said today would describe “the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.”

“SPQR is an alerting to my generation from the ages against tyranny and authoritarianism,” Cawthorn wrote in the declaration.

A picture of Cawthorn in his wheelchair bring a military-style rifle and using a bandolier holster with a pistol also has drawn the attention of his political critics. The holster, which rests on his chest, bears the summary of a Spartan soldier’s helmet. It’s a sign popularized by a reactionary gun-advocacy group called the Oath Keepers and typically consists of the slogan Molon Labe. The translation from ancient Greek belongs to the expression “Come and take them from me.” The words were associated the Spartan King Leonidis in action to a demand from a much-larger enemy to purchase his soldiers to set their weapons and surrender.

A film of that name backed by the Oath Keepers includes conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who declared on his Infowars web program that the 2012 mass murder of 26 children and instructors at the Sandy Hook elementary school was fabricated as a pretense by liberals to ban assault weapons. Jones is being taken legal action against by the parents of numerous children and has been ordered to pay more than $100,000 in legal costs in one case prior to it has actually even gone to trial.

Cawthorn also is regularly talked to in the house against a wall displaying an elegant variation of the so-called Betsy Ross flag with just 13 stars for the initial 13 states. It too has actually been embraced by some white supremacists to reference the country at a time when Blacks were shackled and counted in the recently embraced Constitution as three-fifths of a white individual.

This use was unfamiliar outside extremist circles up until 2019 when Nike was forced to scuttle the release of a new shoe including the 13-star style that had been scheduled for release on the Fourth of July. Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick, a Nike brand ambassador who objected cops misconduct against Blacks, warned the company that the sign would upset Black customers.

Cawthorn didn’t react to an emailed AVL Guard dog ask for comment on his screen of these signs, and it isn’t understood if he knows how they are being utilized. But in public remarks after expressing opposition to a federal policy of African-American reparations, he has pressed back at any recommendation of bigotry. He told BPR job interviewer Vaillancourt that his fiance’ is “half African American” and their kids will hence be bi-racial.

He insisted his opposition came from his decision that his kids would not grow up with “an entitlement state of mind.” The genuine racists are white liberals who promote for reparations and such programs as Affirmative Action, Cawthorn continued.

“They want people to be able to get into college with lower grades and lower school scores simply due to the fact that they are African American. That’s crazy. That is stating, ‘Hey, you know what? Don’t work so hard because you’re African American, due to the fact that you most likely just can’t do it.’ Are you kidding me?”

His challenger, retired Air Force Colonel Morris (Moe) Davis of Asheville, is among those promoting for a federal reparations policy, a position he has actually concerned in part after participating in and teaching law at a historically Black university.

“My opponent was homeschooled, never ever went to college, never ever went to law school and never worked outside this area,” Davis said.

Missing from Cawthorn’s campaign up until now have actually been policy positions on issues that might draw assistance from other young citizens and thereby place him as a conservative option to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez who has actually developed a following far beyond her district. Those policies would likely need to attend to such issues as climate change, LGBTQ issues and social equity.

However Western Carolina University’s Cooper stated that if Cawthorn moved in this instructions to fulfill his desire to become the new face of GOP conservatives, he ‘d be challenged with a dilemma.

“If he runs a project that would get him that level of nationwide attention,” Cooper said, “I do not believe it would assist him in your area.”

AVL Guard dog is a nonprofit news group producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Tom Fiedler is former executive editor of The Miami Herald and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter. He lives in Asheville. Contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You require JavaScript allowed to see it.
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Source: smokymountainnews.com

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