Comments made by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) about "bloodshed" and future protests in Washington, D.C., continue to draw condemnation -- which led to his spokesperson unpersuasively attempting to clarify what the lawmaker said -- led one columnist to point out that what the controversial lawmaker said exposes what deep down his party believes.
On Sunday, Cawthorn told North Carolina Republicans, "The things that we are wanting to fight for, it doesn't matter if our votes don't count. Because, you know, if our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it's going to lead to one place — and it's bloodshed."
While that video was deleted from Facebook, his words have continued to haunt Republicans with The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, accusing, "The big truth captured here is that for many right-wing personalities, the lying about the left is prior and essential to their radicalization, abandonment of democracy and increasing embrace of authoritarianism."
As the columnist notes, Cawthorn's comments are not an outlier among rightwing extremists -- he just said the quiet part out loud.
"You see versions of this constantly from the right's superstars," he recalled. "Remember when Tucker Carlson agreed that virtuous conservatives just might get pushed into fascism if and when the left's excesses require it? This was justified by the invention that the left is already perilously close to this point, creating a perfect feedback loop of self-justification. Similarly, when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) flirted with political violence, she did so by seemingly agreeing with the need to combat various leftist tyrannies that were simply invented.'
Sargent noted that Political theorist Laura Field has already highlighted what is going on, with Field explaining, "The main problem isn't the GOP's disbelief in democracy, troubling though that is. The main problem, or in the very least the corollary problem, is all the misinformation and lying about the majority. Right-wing leaders are constantly peddling falsehoods about the threat posed by the majority, and these — which range from distortive hyperbole to manipulative lies — form the justificatory foundation of their anti-democratic efforts."
According to Sargent, right-wing extremists are merely testing the waters to see how far they can go. with an eye on future elections.
"While they take care to publicly condemn such extreme measures, on some level they have conjured up a way to manufacture a core of righteousness to the cause of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists," he wrote before warning, "And the unsettling truth of the matter is that for them that cause, in some form or other, endures, and very well may be used to justify far worse in the future."
You can read his whole piece here.