#NC 11: Cawthorn Takes A Hard-Right Turn – BPR/ Blue Ridge Public Radio

10August 2020

Fiedler of AVL Watchdog When then 24-year-old Madison Cawthorn easily defeated a Trump-backed competitor to catch the GOP nomination in Western North Carolina’s 11th congressional district, he declared that his mission would be to save his celebration from a “generational time bomb.”

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

“Move over AOC,” asserts a cartoonish video on his project website where his smiling image shoves aside one of New york city Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 31-year-old favorite of the Democratic left known commonly as AOC.

Cawthorn informed a New york city Times recruiter that he was motivated to seek workplace “since I believe there’s a generational time bomb going off in the Republican Celebration … I think we’ve not been working hard enough to actually connect and try to interest more youthful citizens and we’re starting to see the implications of that in national elections.”

But if those words appear to presage a project message that would inject a brand-new, younger way of believing in his party, it isn’t apparent in his basic election campaign. Given that declaring the nomination, Cawthorn has campaigned as a hard-right conservative on policies aligned with the party base of older white voters instead of those revealed 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 demonstrated his self-reliance from the Washington, D.C.-based Republican elite.

Recently popular is the mantra that he is “ pro-Trump, pro-life and pro-2nd Amendment.” He occupies his Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts with videos of his Washington, D.C. meetings with Trump and other long-time GOP leaders. These sign up with earlier pictures of the ever-upbeat young man bearing assault-style weapons, an tribute to the 2nd Amendment (which, he declares, enables the 1st Amendment’s assurances) and occasional Bible verses. A home-schooled evangelical Christian, he states he thinks in “faith, & family & flexibility” and pledges to oppose “leftist coastal 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 appearances included on his social networks pages– including a video with President Trump, Meadows, Rudy Giuliani and other senior Republicans last month at the Trump International Hotel– illustrate Cawthorn and the majority of the other individuals disregarding social distancing and face covering mandates. (Cawthorn’s campaign didn’t respond to AVL Guard dog’s requests for comment on this practice).

Deliberately or accidentally, Cawthorn utilizes or has actually displayed some symbols related to such right-wing extremists as Alex Jones– advocate of the debunked conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook grade school’s mass killing was staged– and of white nationalists, consisting of some taking part in the notorious Charlottesville “Join the White” demonstration.

And he has actually dismissed as “dissentious” and “racist” the Asheville City Council’s recent decision 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 inadequate?” he said in an interview with Blue Ridge Public Radio reporter Cory Vaillancourt, a reply that neglects both the century-long impact of Jim Crow laws and the fact that 260,000 of the soldiers who died in the Civil War were Confederates combating to preserve slavery.

Taken as a whole, far from marketing as the Pied Piper for a brand-new Republican generation, Cawthorn’s method appears to take pages from the Trump and Meadows playbook by appealing mostly to the older, white, conservative base in the 11th congressional district’s 17 counties including Buncombe and Henderson.

Western North Carolina University government professor Chris Cooper sees some logic in this strategy because Trump carried these counties in 2016 with 57 percent of the vote. Nonetheless, Cooper added in an interview with AVL Guard dog, the technique likewise carries threat:”His base is going to choose him anyway. But the biggest group of citizens in the 11th [congressional district] is unaffiliated with either political celebration and they could be alienated by the hard-right rhetoric.” Given that the 2016 election, federal courts purchased the GOP-gerrymandered district to be redrawn to include all of Buncombe, considerably diluting its Republican dominance. Registered Republicans still outnumber Democrats by more than 2 to one in the new district, however voters unaffiliated with either celebration now make up about 52 percent of the overall qualified vote. Although independent analysts continue to rank the district as “solid” Republican, a landslide shift by these unaffiliated citizens could switch the district into the Democratic column.

Yet in spite of Cawthorn’s revealed ambition to defuse the GOP’s “generational time bomb,” Cooper stated, “he’s not connecting to next-generation citizens in his policy positions.” That, too, makes political sense for him. Numerous national studies of more youthful citizens portend problem for Republican prospects starting with Trump. The 2020 Harvard Institute of Politics Youth Poll, the country’s oldest and biggest survey of 18 to 29-year-olds, discovered simply 22 percent said they related to the GOP– half of those “not very strong.” And by a 2-1 margin, these young Americans the job being done by Trump and Republicans in Congress. (The study was completed in March, prior to the full impact of the pandemic, which likely cut more into Trump and the GOP’s favorability.)

Various surveys also show Cawthorn out of step with the big bulk of his generational peers on at least two of the concerns central to his project: publicly funded healthcare and the ability to own assault weapons. The Youth Poll discovered in 2019 that 53 percent of these young Americans would prohibit the sale of assault weapons while 30 percent oppose a restriction. In the 2020 survey, simply 2 percent of the younger Americans even listed security of gun rights as an issue of concern.

On healthcare, 63 percent of those surveyed favor a government-funded program, while simply 16 percent oppose such government participation. In an interview with New york city Times reporter Maggie Astor after catching the GOP nomination, Cawthorn revealed frustration that Republicans stopped working to rescind the Affordable Care Act in 2017 in spite of holding the White House and both chambers of Congress. He said that, if chosen, he would work to “remove a great deal of the regulations in the health care market” and would “bring in a couple of more insurer [to] open more competitors.”

When the reporter asked where he varies from older Republican lawmakers, he responded: “I believe the place where we really do differ is that I believe I can carry the message of conservatism in such a way that does not appear so abrasive– that has much better product packaging, I would say, better messaging.” Cawthorn also said he has actually drawn life lessons from the near-fatal injuries sustained when he was a guest in an SUV that crashed in 2014. The injuries required months of treatment, hindered his ambition to go into the Marine Corps by means of Annapolis and requires him to utilize a wheelchair. Among the lessons, he informed Astor, are determination to pursue objectives 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 “packaging” of conservative policies– however effective in the GOP primary– can win enough of the unaffiliated to be chosen. Up until now, Cawthorn is sticking to the existing GOP messaging on immigration, China, the coronavirus and civil demonstration in the wake of the George Floyd protests. And instead of discovering material in his public speeches and media comments to recommend compassion for “people who are disenfranchised,” there is a good deal that strikes his online critics as being not only abrasive, but extremist. A prominent source of social-media conversation is the corporate name of Cawthorn’s real-estate investment company, SPQR Holdings, LLC. The initials SPQR derive from the Latin initials for “the Senate and People of Rome,” which denoted the Roman empire at its height and today appears widely on Italian tourist trinkets. But 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 brought by white supremacists during the “Join the White” presentations and were later on singled out by the Southern Poverty Law Center as representing 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 represent “racial and cultural purity” and to glorify cultures of “military and violence.” Although Cawthorn decreased to be spoken with about his usage of SPQR in his organisation, he supplied a written declaration calling it simply “a term for Rome” and denouncing efforts “by extremists on any side to pirate or reword history” by connecting other significances to it. He added that this country’s Founding Daddies were influenced by such Roman statesmen as the theorist Cicero who warned against authoritarian policies, which Cawthorn stated today would explain “the Green New Offer and Medicare for All.”

“SPQR is a cautioning to my generation from the ages against tyranny and authoritarianism,” Cawthorn wrote in the declaration. A photo of Cawthorn in his wheelchair carrying a military-style rifle and using a bandolier holster with a pistol also has actually drawn the attention of his political critics. The holster, which rests on his chest, bears the overview of a Spartan soldier’s helmet. It’s a symbol popularized by a reactionary gun-advocacy group called the Oath Keepers and often consists of the motto Molon Labe. The translation from ancient Greek belongs to the phrase “Come and take them from me.” The words were attributed the Spartan King Leonidis in reaction to a demand from a much-larger opponent to purchase his soldiers to put down their weapons and surrender.

A movie of that name backed by the Oath Keepers functions conspiracy theorist Alex Jones who declared on his Infowars web program that the 2012 mass murder of 26 kids and instructors at the Sandy Hook primary school was fabricated as a pretense by liberals to forbid attack weapons. Jones is being sued by the parents of a number of children and has been purchased to pay more than $100,000 in legal expenses in one case before it has even gone to trial.

Cawthorn likewise is often interviewed in your home against a wall displaying a stylized variation of the so-called Betsy Ross flag with simply 13 stars for the original 13 states. It too has been adopted by some white supremacists to reference the nation at a time when Blacks were shackled and counted in the newly adopted Constitution as three-fifths of a white person.

This use was unfamiliar outside extremist circles until 2019 when Nike was forced to scuttle the release of a brand-new shoe including the 13-star design that had been set up for release on the 4th of July. Previous NFL star Colin Kaepernick, a Nike brand ambassador who protested police misconduct versus Blacks, warned the company that the sign would upset Black consumers.

Cawthorn didn’t respond to an emailed AVL Guard dog request for talk about his screen of these symbols, and it isn’t understood if he understands how they are being utilized. But in public comments after revealing opposition to a federal policy of African-American reparations, he has actually pushed back at any tip of racism. He informed BPR job interviewer Vaillancourt that his future husband’ is “half African American” and their kids will therefore be bi-racial.

He insisted his opposition stemmed from his determination that his children wouldn’t mature with “an entitlement state of mind.” The real racists are white liberals who advocate for reparations and such programs as Affirmative Action, Cawthorn continued. “They desire individuals to be able to get into college with lower grades and lower school ratings merely since they are African American. That’s insane. That is stating, ‘Hey, you know what? Don’t work so hard since you’re African American, since you probably simply can’t do it.’ Are you joke me?”

His opponent, retired Air Force Colonel Morris (Moe) Davis of Asheville, is among those promoting for a federal reparations policy, a position he has come to in part after attending and teaching law at a historically Black university. “My challenger was homeschooled, never ever went to college, never went to law school and never ever worked outside this location,” Davis said. Missing from Cawthorn’s campaign up until now have actually been policy positions on issues that may draw assistance from other young citizens and thus place him as a conservative option to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez who has established 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 end up being the brand-new face of GOP conservatives, he ‘d be confronted with a problem. “If he runs a campaign that would get him that level of national attention,” Cooper said, “I don’t think it would help him in your area.”

AVL Guard dog is a not-for-profit news group producing stories that matter to Asheville and Buncombe County. Tom Fiedler is former managing editor of The Miami Herald and a Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter. He lives in Asheville. Contact us at avlwatchdog@gmail.com!.?.!. Source: bpr.org

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