In remarks on Sunday night, Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn spoke ominously of future “rigged elections” that would inevitably lead to more “bloodshed” in the United States.
Cawthorn, a freshman representative from North Carolina, made the comment in a speech he delivered at a Macon County Republican Party event just moments after he was holding a shotgun he’d signed for a raffle, according to the Washington Post.
“The things that we are wanting to fight for, it doesn’t matter if our votes don’t count,” Cawthorn said. “Because, you know, if our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s gonna lead to one place—and it’s bloodshed.
“I will tell you, as much as I am willing to defend our liberty at all costs, there is nothing that I would dread doing more than having to pick up arms against a fellow American,” he continued. “And the way that we can have recourse against that is if we all passionately demand that we have election security in all 50 states.”
Cawthorn then went on to reassure the crowd that together, they would “take... down” President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris “one at a time.” When an audience member asked him about the January 6 insurrection—inquiring as to whether Cawthorn and other members of Congress would “call us to Washington again”—the North Carolina congressman responded: “We are actively working on that one... We have a few plans in motion that I can’t make public right now.”
Nothing concerning in this, I’m sure. A spokesperson for Cawthorn told the Post on Monday that Cawthorn was “CLEARLY advocating for violence not to occur over election integrity questions.”
“He fears others would erroneously choose that route and strongly states that election integrity issues should be resolved peacefully and never through violence,” the spokesperson, Luke Ball, told the outlet.
Despite Ball’s statement, it seems fairly clear what message Cawthorn intended to convey—neither peaceful protest nor nonviolence were even alluded to, let advocated for.
And even if Cawthorn did promote these values among his supporters, it would hardly carry any meaning: At this point, mentions of “rigged elections” or widespread voter fraud—neither of which have any factual basis—often act as their own coded inducements to violence. Republicans like Cawthorn don’t need to potentially incriminate themselves by making the inducements more obvious, but he seems to want to anyway.