College Republicans Violating Their Group’s Commitment With Choice Of Speakers

This weekend’s choice of speakers by the College Republicans is a violation of the group’s commitment for productive discourse. It also signals that they don’t have any lessons to learn from past mistakes.

On October 11, WMUR reported that the Dartmouth College Republicans would invite Madison Cawthorn (a 26-year old Republican from North Carolina) to join them on the panel “The Future of the Republican Party”, which will take place on Sunday, Oct. 24. Cawthorn will be there along with Karoline Leavitt, former Trump administration assistant press secretary, and Alex Bruesewitz, former Trump campaign strategist.

This is the College Republicans’ first major event since February 2020 when their leadership quit after falsely claiming that a Corky Messner event was cancelled due to “a possible violent reaction by campus activists”. In fact, the club failed to secure security for the event, which the group’s previous leadership later acknowledged in an op ed as “poor planning” and “lack of foresight.”

The College Republicans’ ex-leadership apologized for creating a “purely opposing” organization. They wrote that their leadership had been more concerned with provoking the “radical Left” and “owning libs” than encouraging productive discourse. They stated that they wanted to “break the cycle…of increasingly hostile and alienating provocations and interactions” and hoped for “a more respectful, engaged College Republicans.”

Their hopes seemed to have gone sour. Cawthorn was invited to campus a year later. It seems that the group has reverted back to the same sensational and thoughtless tactics that led to their relative disappearance.

Cawthorn’s invitation to speak is counterproductive to College Republicans’ stated goal of encouraging open discourse. He is a man who regularly attacks experts and organizations seeking truth, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and nonpartisan election administrators. In order to appeal to voters, the congressman regularly and brazenly lied to his background. One campaign ad even went so far as to lie about details of his car accident that left his paralyzed. His campaign website also attacked Cory Booker of New Jersey, who was Black, for allegedly wanting to “ruin white men.” Cawthorn has been facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct by former classmates — allegations supported by a letter signed at Patrick Henry College by more than 150 of Cawthorn’s former peers.

Cawthorn continues his pattern of misconduct and dishonesty as a congressman. Although his lies cover many issues, including vaccine misinformation and transphobia, his most damaging statements are about democracy. He promoted the absurd and baseless idea that the election had been “stolen” in the weeks and months following the November 2020 election. Cawthorn was at the Jan. 6 rally where he decried Republicans in Congress for “hiding from not fighting.” The Capitol was then overthrown by the mob Cawthorn was addressing, who was motivated by rhetoric similar to his and that of former President Donald Trump. He has repeatedly warned of “bloodshed” in future elections, while simultaneously minimizing his involvement in the Jan. 6 events. His words have real-world consequences and carry great political weight, which is not the case for most Americans. Any reasonable conservative campus group should find his dishonesty and willingness to accept violence if his party loses an electoral vote unacceptable.

If this is the candidate that College Republicans want to bring to campus to represent their party’s future, then that is their right. This Editorial Board is opposed to any attempt by the College or other actors in order to stop Cawthorn speaking. Cawthorn’s track record should be enough to speak for itself. The College Republicans invited him to speak on the “future” of the Republican Party. This seems to indicate their support for his authoritarian vision.

The other panelists aren’t much better. Like Cawthorn Leavitt has called an audit of the election and spread lies regarding fraud. Bruesewitz also supported claims of election fraud , threatening on the day before Jan. 6, 2017, insurgent to support-election-audit/37798054#”>u>called for/u>/a> audits of the election and led the conspiratorial #StopTheSteal effort.

These panelists may be the future of Republican Party as they are depicted by College Republicans banners. If so, it is not a bright future for productive discourse or the persistence of truth. Each of these politicians and actors have endorsed harmful conspiracies, and lied to people, often unaware or not bothered by the consequences. They are not conservative purveyors with fair thinking. They are not innovative thinkers who can solve the problems of society. Open discourse is a key goal of college campuses. It’s a place where politicians can come from all sides. But, it is irresponsible to bring politicians who are against facts in order to achieve political gain.

This is not to suggest that College Republicans shouldn’t be free to invite anyone they wish. Each student organization should be able to decide what type of discourse they wish to bring to campus. This should not be subject to any interference from the College. The speakers that a group brings to campus should reflect the group. We urge College Republicans to choose speakers who are at least willing to tell the truth if they want to have a rational discussion about the future.