Letter: Cawthorn and the fight mindset

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am deeply troubled by Madison Cawthorn’s “fight”-themed reply to my letter concerning the events of Jan. 6. Elected to represent me as a member of the U.S. Congress — not the police, military or militia — I wonder who, what, why is he fighting? He writes about fighting for principles that will “unite Republicans and conservatives.” Is this a fight to save his own hide? His eye on the next election?

When he talks of opposing “the far left’s schemes,” I wonder, is this a reference to constituents like me who support Medicare for All and Democratic Socialist institutions like public schools and libraries, the police and fire departments, highways, roads, bridges? His job is to represent me, not oppose me. I am not a schemer because I have a different vision and values for our country. I am not his enemy, I am his constituent.

A fight mindset divides people into two categories: winners and losers. At its extreme, it gives us leaders like T’rump, who believe that winning is the highest virtue, and an upside-down moral universe, where a hero like John McCain is vilified as a loser because he was shot down and captured, and a draft dodger like T’rump is worshipped as a winner because he gamed the system.

Anything goes in the service of winning: lying, denying facts, inciting violence, condoning killing. Fight is born of our instinct for self-preservation — I’ll get you before you get me — and fear of annihilation. Growing up to become a well-adjusted member of society involves learning how to temper basic instincts and the ability to discern when threats are real. When winners become false gods and loss is experienced as annihilation, denial of defeat and fighting against those who speak the truth is essential for psychic survival. False leaders feed on isolation, not community, on fear and picking open rather than healing old wounds. In this upside-down world, there is no place for “forgive us our trespasses.”

Asking for forgiveness requires the ability to admit to being less than perfect, to having fears and failures, to being human, not God. At age 64, I struggle daily with keeping my fears in check. I’m learning that when I lead from a place of fear, I don’t make good decisions. So, my question for Mr. Cawthorn is, “Of what are you afraid?”

It’s a question for all of us, but especially for those who aspire to be leaders and pretend to be fearless while posturing with guns. Here’s one of my fears: That our elected leaders, whether afraid of losing political positions and power, or their lives, will continue to collude with a naked mad emperor, giving legitimacy to this upside-down moral universe where there is no place for leaders with humility (which comes with accepting defeat), courage (born of facing fears honestly), wisdom (learning from mistakes) and compassion (the ability to forgive).

— Margaret Bishop

Editor’s note: A press release containing many of the same points covered in Cawthorn’s letter to the writer can be found on his congressional website: avl.mx/90x.


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15 thoughts on “Letter: Cawthorn and the fight mindset

  1. bsummers

    I look forward to Jasmine Beach-Ferrara sending this punk back home.

      • bsummers

        Not necessarily. I could see her buying him a bus ticket, packing him a bag of healthy snacks, driving him down to the Greyhound station in DC, handing him over to the driver who promised to keep an eye on the little feller, and then calling his Mom down in Asheville to double-check that someone would be there to meet the bus.

        What an adventure the little guy has had!

          • Broadway Barney

            WNC … I’ve got a sneaking feeling that you’ll be headed up to Washington, DC, today (March 4) to watch “the inauguration of the 19th President” with your QAnon pals? Maybe you’ll get to see Rep. Cawthorn speak at that “ceremony”.

  2. WNC

    Nope, don’t care to much for Cawthorn, you would be better to go on facts than fillings Barney. Don’t know anything about QAnon but it sounds like a UFO something someone talks about but never seen.
    You might try to run a good candidate next time if you don’t like Cawthorn. Hope Republicans or independents run a better candidate next time also.
    Got to be careful jumping conclusions or you might strain something Barn.

    • Dopamina

      “Don’t know anything about QAnon” –

      Spend less time being condescending to strangers on the internet and maybe make an effort to get informed instead. The GOP is turning into a cult because of this shit. Just because you seem to be willfully ignorant of what is going on in the Republican Party doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem!

    • Broadway Barney

      “You might try running a good candidate next time if you don’t like Cawthorn.” Actually, Moe Davis was extraordinarily qualified, but had an uphill battle due to the 11th being a heavily gerrymandered district. I recall the chatter from both ends of political punditry after Cawthorn won the GOP primary. “This is a repudiation of Donald Trump” both sides declared post primary. It is absolutely laughable to assume that 11th District GOP voters were that sophisticated. These GOP voters saw Cawthorn’s campaign poster where he was fully adorned with an AK-47, 2 automatic handguns and ammunition belts and simply declared; “That’s my boy.”

      • Enlightened Enigma

        Moe Davis ran a MEAN campaign which is why he lost …Madison was totally positive and won handily.
        Media is trying to cancel him, but he will survive !

      • Jon King

        “Due to the 11th being a heavily gerrymandered district” is patently untrue. It is THE LEAST gerrymandered district in all of North Carolina. It has the shortest boundary distance per area enclosed of any district in the state. The problem is that NC-11 is R+14. We liberals hide in Asheville and gripe about our representation in the MX. God forbid anyone go out into Buncombe, much less Haywood or Madison, and interact with folks who’ve lived here all their lives. Don’t worry though, there are some new restaurants and breweries opening to divert your attention from the facts.

  3. Dopamina

    “When winners become false gods and loss is experienced as annihilation, denial of defeat and fighting against those who speak the truth is essential for psychic survival.”

    Margaret, this is prose! Please keep fighting the good fight :D

  4. Jason Williams

    The only thing Rep. Cawthorn is fighting for is to build his brand.

    That is why he skipped his vote on the COVID bill, and lied about it, only to go to CPAC and speak to a half empty room.

  5. Xiden lost, we all know it.

    So, I’m sure Davis’ proposal to “snap the necks” of his opponent’s supporters is just fine with you. Hypocrite.

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