AuthorErvin, Mike

I should be ecstatic, but instead I feel cheated.

On Election Day, the voters of North Carolina's Eleventh Congressional District elected Madison Cawthorn to the U.S. House of Representatives. Cawthorn, like me, is a guy in a wheelchair. And he's only twenty-five years old, which will make him the youngest member of Congress!

Cawthorn will get a lot of attention because he's young and handsome and in a wheelchair. He's a good orator, too. That's why I should be ecstatic. I should be celebrating Cawthorn's rise as a major breakthrough for disabled folks. Here's a new voice in Congress to speak for us. And he knows what it's like to navigate through life in a wheelchair because he's been doing it every day for several years.

But the Eleventh District used to be represented by Mark Meadows, who gave up his seat to become the latest chief of staff for the squatter currently still occupying the White House. It stands to reason that his successor would have to be as much of an over-the-top reactionary as he is. And that describes Cawthorn all the way. His campaign website declares, "I'm ready to take on the liberals in Congress."

So a moment in history that should make me buoyant with hope and elation has me filled with dread. Damnit! I really wish I could root for Cawthorn. But as much as I want to be in his corner, I just can't. If Cawthorn carries his campaign image and agenda to Congress, it would be better for disabled folks if he wasn't there at all.

Cawthorn is so obsessed with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that it makes me wonder if there was a girl in his high school who looked like her but wouldn't give him the time of day. He has often attacked her and three other progressive women in Congress, sometimes collectively known as The Squad. On his campaign website, he says, "I decided to run for Congress because I don't want to raise a family in a country run by leftwing socialists. We need leaders who will stand up and fight AOC, The Squad, and the radical left-wing mob."

"My generation," Cawthorn continues, "is looking for results socialism can't provide. Socialism only produces shared misery." In his victory speech on election night, Cawthorn said, "The days of AOC and the far left misleading the next generation of Americans are numbered. Tonight, the voters of western North Carolina chose to stand for freedom and a new generation of leadership in Washington."

Cawthorn portrays himself as the antidote for what he sees as the...

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