Divisive, hateful rhetoric and fear mongering, were normalized and encouraged throughout Trump’s era. Compounded with spreading false claims, dodging accountability and pushing forth regressive policies, Trump’s legacy lives on through emerging and well-established Republican leaders.
Liars, cheaters, and bigots have become the new face of the Republican Party. Despite the ever-growing list of irresponsible behavior exhibited by the party’s most extreme, the party isn’t self-correcting, this mentality is taking over.
With extremist Republicans smitten by the national sensational stage, their fear mongering speeches, divisive policies and irresponsible behavior is trickling down to how Republicans are playing the field on the local level.
Below are just a few of North Carolina Republicans who have well adopted Trumpism and aligned themselves with their national extremist counterparts.
N.C. Representative Madison Cawthorn
Headline after headline, North Carolina’s very own Representative Madison Cawthorn has made a name for himself, but not in a good way. His repeated irresponsible behavior, past controversies, and divisive rhetoric has solidified the representative as a product of the growing Trumpism mentality.
Most recently, Cawthorn was caught at the Charlotte-Douglas airport trying to smuggle a loaded weapon onto an airplane – an act that is not only dangerous but illegal. This incident is not the first time, as the representative has reportedly bragged about illegally bringing a weapon into Congress, and bringing a weapon onto public school property.
Clearly, the representative does not think the rules apply to him, as he has been cited for driving without a license more than once. All this, compounded with his involvement in the Jan. 6th attack on Congress, his wild accusations about his colleagues in Washington, possible insider trading, and public praise of Hitler, makes us wonder why Republicans have not yet called for his resignation.
Former NC Representative and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows is also taking up the national spotlight as his text conversations were reviewed by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on Congress. These texts reveal a coordinated effort to overturn the 2020 election, with Meadows reportedly at the epicenter of the conspiracy.
Ironically, while we learn more about his attempt to convince Americans that the 2020 election was rigged, it turns out Meadows fraudulently registered to vote in North Carolina at a residence he had never even visited, and in two other states.
Lt. Governor Mark Robinson
From the very beginning of his political career, Mark Robinson has stirred controversy. His public statements and social media posts have been filled with homophobia, misogyny, anti-Semitism, and intolerance.
Early in his career, he led a charge to villainize educators by creating a “task force” to report on teachers who are attempting to “indoctrinate” children. Taking points from the GOP’s nationally coordinated effort to ban books, Robinson has been pushing for the removal of books from school libraries that feature LGBTQ+ characters, and has publicly called all LGBTQ North Carolinians “filth.”
Robinson’s divisive and hateful rhetoric has been condemned by leaders from the White House, an array of human rights groups and North Carolinians. In some instances, advocates and leaders have called for his resignation.
Despite Robinson’s continued barrage of offensive speeches and controversies, the response from the NC GOP has been the sound of crickets chirping.
Chief Justice Paul Newby
Under Chief Justice Paul Newby’s leadership, the evidence that Republicans packed the courts with judges that will protect the party’s interest and policies couldn’t be any clearer.
Newby has repeatedly put partisan aligned individuals into positions of power – rewarding Republican insiders at the cost of the state court system’s expertise, continuity and public confidence.
Newby has also stood by while his Republican counterparts in the NC General Assembly continue to overstep separations of power, oversight and undermine the judicial system.
Republican extremism isn’t exclusive to national headlines involving state officials, candidates, or pundits, but extending to local communities as well.
William Keith Senter
Due to Trump’s violent and threatening political rhetoric surrounding the 2020 election, political intimidation against election officials, volunteers, and voters became common nationwide throughout the election season.
Local threats and intimidation instances were evident, with individuals like William Keith Senter, Chair of the Surry County Republican Party, adding to the list of people that beckoned to Trump’s violent rhetoric.
According to Reuters, “Senter reportedly sought evidence to support false conspiracy theories alleging the 2020 election was rigged against Trump….Senter told Surry Elections Director Michella Huff, that he would ensure she lost her job if she refused his demand to access the county’s vote tabulators.”
Senter was “aggressive, threatening, and hostile,” in two meetings with Huff, the state elections board said, citing witness accounts.”
The Surry Republican Chair represents a microcosm of Trump’s efforts to undermine democracy and subvert the 2020 election results to favor himself.
John Fischer is running for the Johnston County Board of Education and touting his affiliation with the Proud Boys, a hate group known for their participation in the January 6th attack on the capitol. Fischer, a registered Republican, is running on a platform that slavery, women’s rights and racial segregation are “no longer an issue,” according to reporting from WRAL.
There are 13 candidates running in Johnston County’s Board of Education election and early voting has already started for the May 17th election. Several Johnston County residents have spoken out against Fischer’s candidacy, citing his affiliation with the Proud Boys.
By normalizing and remaining content with the continued dehumanizing, vile and divisive rhetoric stemming from Trump’s legacy, Republicans are saying that they are okay with being a party that protects liars, cheaters, and bigots.