It’s easy and, indeed, necessary to chastise Cawthorn, given this record, and to be glad voters in his district had the good sense to remove him. But in this case, it is not only their good they are serving. Accounts in Politico and elsewhere are not entirely unsympathetic to Cawthorn, nor is this one. Multiple eleventh-district residents believe, with good reason, that Cawthorn suffers lingering trauma, both physical and emotional, from his accident. They speak of curtailed dreams, of crushing realities, of the lived reality of constant pain. It is impossible, given what Cawthorn has gone through, not to have some degree of compassion for him. But his time in office has made it clear that the kind of public celebrity he sought and received would never help him manage or move past what ails him. Such a process is best undertaken away from the public eye, in the company of friends, family, and with whatever care he needs. So far, however, he appears to be choosing a different, more vengeful and bitter path in the aftermath of his defeat.
One can hope that he rejects this path and accepts his humbling as an opportunity for maturation and healing, and wish him well. But one can also hope that the Cawthorn we’ve seen since 2020 is viewed not as a model for the rising generation of politicians, but as a cautionary tale.
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