From The New York Times, by Karen L. Cox:
There is a saying that the South lost the war but won the peace — that military defeat did not stop the Confederate cause and that the Lost Cause was not entirely lost. It was won through the rewriting of history, electing officials who sought to reestablish political and social control over freedmen and women, through violence and draconian legislation, and by perpetuating the mythology that theirs was a sacred cause and that white Southerners were a patriotic people who had done nothing more than to try to preserve states’ rights.
Mr. Trump’s tweet to his followers echoed these same sentiments. He referred to his cause as “sacred” and to those who supported him as “great patriots” and admonished them to “Remember this day forever!” This is how the original Lost Cause emerged, and if history repeats itself in the decades ahead, Trump Republicans will continue to defend what he began, think of it as a patriotic duty, and not only will they “never forget,” they will most likely perpetuate these sentiments onto future generations.
This is how the myth of Lost Cause played out in the states of the former Confederacy. It grew in strength, found support among white Northerners and has lasted for generations such that even today, more than 150 years later, people defend its basic tenets.
Mr. Trump’s lost cause, however, is far more dangerous because it affects more than a region; it is national in scope. It has ensnared everyone from Senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas to over 130 Republican members of the House to the Proud Boys and Women for Trump. Democrats may be able to win general elections, but Trumpism will live on in Republican-dominated legislatures whose members remain in power, in some cases at least, because of voting restrictions and district gerrymandering.
The constant refrain coming from Republican leaders is that the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol is “not who we are.” And yet how else are we to explain what happened? If it is not who we are, then all members of both parties should reject this 21st-century lost cause. But too many Republicans haven’t — and unless they do, its impact could last for generations.