North Carolina paper slams GOP for coddling party’s fringe — and handing them ‘the tools to dismantle democracy’

North Carolina paper slams GOP for coddling party’s fringe — and handing them ‘the tools to dismantle democracy’
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The Charlotte Observer's Editorial Board published a searing op-ed on Sunday pillorying the North Carolina Republican Party's passive endorsement of the poisonous politics promoted by its most extreme members. The paper's leaders opined that nobody quite embodies that descent into madness than United States Congressman Madison Cawthorn.

The 26-year-old freshman's pattern of behavior has earned him a reputation for being clueless about how our constitutional republic is supposed to function, and his engagement in radical rhetoric threatens to inspire violence.

Yet despite the party's growing frustration with Cawthorn, little is being done to stop the havoc that his bluster is wreaking on American democratic principles.

“Cawthorn is not well-regarded with Republicans statewide in North Carolina. Many of us think he is an embarrassment to our party and state,” an unnamed GOP operative told The Washington Examiner last Sunday.

Too bad, the editors countered over the weekend, because the party sat on its hands while extremists like Cawthorn and [Lieutenant Governor Mark] Robinson "campaigned on the same toxic messaging they’re spouting now. And for far too long, it was enabled by the Republican establishment, the vast majority of whom said and did very little to stop it."

State party bigwigs "were silent when people like Cawthorn peddled election fraud conspiracies," the Board said. "They were silent when he warned of 'bloodshed' if elections continue to be 'rigged.' And when Robinson repeatedly disparaged the LGBTQ+ community? Yep, you guessed it — nothing."

Even the violent insurrection at the United States Capitol on January 6th, 2021 failed to "prove to be much of a wake-up call for many Republican politicians," they continued.

Rather than refuting the demonstrably false narrative, the state GOP allowed Trump-fueled conspiracy theories to metastasize. In fact, the only elected Republicans that were disciplined were Senator Richard Burr and Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Burr was censured for voting to remove Trump from office after he was impeached for inciting the deadly riot. So were Cheney and Kinzinger for serving on the bipartisan House panel assembled to investigate the attack.

"The party gave their most radical members the tools to dismantle democracy. They gave them a platform, helped fund their campaigns and looked the other way when they strayed into vitriolic territory," the editors noted. "They let people like Cawthorn and Robinson become the face of the Republican Party."

The Board believes that the North Carolina GOP has passed the point of no return.

Cawthorn's "brand of politics is becoming less of an asset and more of a liability," the editors said. "Now that Republicans realize it may not bode well for them politically, some want to take it back. Many others continue to, at least implicitly, support them."

While some dissent has emerged among nationally prominent GOP lawmakers, such as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, "Cawthorn is hardly an outlier," the Board stated. "There are plenty of Cawthorns in Congress right now, and even more of them are seeking public office in 2022. So far, none of them has been shunned by their party."

The party offered no public condemnation of Representatives Majorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) and Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) participating in a White nationalist conference in late February. Nor did it provide a rebuttal to Cawthorn referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a "thug" earlier this month.

Reserving any benefit of the doubt has therefore become impossible.

"It may be that many Republicans have always had reservations about the Cawthorns and the Robinsons of their party, at least in private. But as an elected official, what matters most is what you do in public — and it took way too long for Republicans in power to even say something," the Board added.

Thus, the editors concluded, "when Republicans try to paint themselves as rational and morally grounded actors — the very antithesis of people like Cawthorn — North Carolinians should remember all the times that they weren’t."

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