Why Madison Cawthorn is Trump 2.0

There’s a line in a new Time magazine profile of freshman North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn that really jumped out at me.

In an email sent to his Republican House colleagues earlier this month, Cawthorn, who at 25 is the youngest person ever to be elected to Congress, boasted: “I have built my staff around comms rather than legislation.”
As in: He is far more focused on putting together a communications team to help in building a profile — in and out of the House — than he is on, you know, actually doing the work that he was elected to do. Although he has been an official House member for just a few weeks, Cawthorn has already shown his penchant for publicity.
    In an interview with CNN’s Pamela Brown last weekend, Cawthorn was forced to admit he had seen no evidence of election fraud, despite voting to object to Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania. He also told Brown that he now accepts the 2020 election because, uh, well, he didn’t really say.
    And on the day he was elected in November, Cawthorn took to Twitter to offer this trenchant political commentary: “Cry more, lib.” (He has since said he regrets the tweet.)
    All of the controversy and attention is directly out of the Donald Trump playbook. “The show is ‘Trump,’ ” he told Playboy magazine in 1990. “And it is sold-out performances everywhere.”
    The controversy, the attention, the — ugh — buzz is the whole point. You’re not in office to do something, you’re there to be someone. Which is why you would not only build your congressional staff around your communications operation — not your policy objectives — but then also brag about doing just that to your colleagues!
      (Another example of this profile-over-policy approach within the GOP is Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, who seems to believe his main job in Congress is to troll his colleagues.)
      The Point: This is the next iteration of Trumpism. The same naked desire for attention and dismissal of the “serious” parts of the job, just younger and with a sprinkle more self-awareness.

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