The cult of Trump feverishly looks to the Confederacy’s Lost Cause Martyrdom Scheme
News flash: the bizarro Conniver-in-chief just lost his entire Senate trial defense team. And nitwit Giuliani can’t substitute, being a potential witness. The exiting attorneys likely insisted on gold bars in advance, aside from guffawing at Trump’s crazed strategy to condone the House insurrection indictment because the election was “stolen.” In such separate worlds are these positions, we look to satirist Andy Borowitz to explain, “Trump to Defend Self After Receiving Law Degree from Trump University.” That’ll ice it, Trump being the only criminal defendant, acting for himself, who could induce 17 craven Rethumpicans to find him guilty.
Senate conviction remains a long shot, but, strangely enough, a bi-partisan whacking would be the best thing for everyone – for the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and the mental health of 90% of America. Only conviction forever kills Trump’s farcical election lie – and outlaws another run. Alas, justice must wait as the Senate looks to duplicate what Trump always counts on: running away, bankruptcies, never being held accountable. If Trump escapes this most obvious rap, how do we hold anybody responsible for anything? If a president gets away with inciting a treasonous riot (warring against the government), then badly wounded are the integrity of elections, thus majority rule, thus voting, thus democratic representation. Could one oblivious buffoon do so much damage? Not alone. Despite being the slam-dunk impeachment of all time, cowardly Repugs can still betray their honor and oaths to the Constitution.
Only conviction summarily removes the cancer that opened the gates for the MAGA crowd to do their worst by undermining faith in enduring American institutions. Any Trump thugsters who invaded the Capitol, calling to lynch Mike Pence, if not members of Congress, must be expunged from the body politic. What better vaccination is there against a political pandemic that will certainly outlive its virulent, viral cousin?
Mock Confederacy rises again?
Judging by the surge and duration of current sedition, Trump’s anti-American rebellion invokes traitorous Confederate forebears (thus all those kind words for white supremacy). First came sputtering, lie-induced outrage, then threats, then failed attacks on state houses, and now a direct assault on the Capitol. And all locked down by an irrational conspiracy, overflowing with gall, that posits Biden as the Cheater-in-chief. For today and history, no one but the phony, deranged, witless grifter from Queens will own that prize.
All the mounting evidence, especially that multiple radicals conspired when organizing the Capitol assault, supports terrorist expert and retired Army General Stanley McChrystal’s assessment: even without Trump, the “radical movement he helped create has its own momentum and cohesion now and simply awaits a new charismatic leader to fill the gap left by Trump.” He adds, “something very dangerous has been woven, and it’s further along than most Americans care to admit,” openly comparing MAGA terrorists to Al-Qaeda.
Thus, imagining the next sequence requires no genius. However impeachment turns out, the Senate vote will incite more terrorist threats, building on their tragic, avoidable success in D.C., more focused protests, and likely more destruction and bloodshed. Whatever happens, is this not the predictable finale for all those who defy the American experiment: secession? Are senators Cruz or Hawley or Rand Paul all that different from bellicose southerners egging on Civil War by ridiculing our most basic Constitutional mandates? Are there not at large enough militants hundreds o9f with millions of guns to sustain years of wreckage? In contrast, for the record, right now thousands of Russians fighting for freedom are overcoming cold and arrest to challenge Putin’s tyranny, especially the abuse of one opposition leader. Quite a nifty difference in protest movements.
The best, if now increasingly squandered guarantee of justice and national stability depends on an overwhelming Congressional consensus that confirms the Biden election, rule by law and the Constitution. All else falls short. Another big civil war may not be looming, but there’s a world of pain between one appalling Capitol invasion vs. what tens of thousands of angry, armed extremists could pull off. So not only are heroic, rightwing “peacemakers” missing in action, but indefensible Senate obstruction gives insurrectionists approval to rampage at will. If Trump gets away with inciting a riotous, treasonous mob, brace for Palin’s bad advice: “don’t retreat, reload.” All that, despite the obvious double-bind: were Trump convicted, however unlikely, that way martyrdom lies. Were he acquitted, that way lies a void of accountability, thus more chaos, confusion and who knows what else (guessing the new, egregious bottom is a fool’s errand). If complicit rightwing officials fail to impede “don’t retreat, reload” thugs, we all better learn to duck and run with agility.
The last desperate Trump scam
How many fantasized that Trump’s frightful exit would defuse his impact, even partly damp down the insurgents he dragged into the Republican Party. So much for reducing Trump’s “mainstreaming of madness, as Frank Figiuzzi, ex-FBI/MSNBC commentator puts it. One step further, Wash Post’s Dana Milbank declares, “This is not mere madness — it is madness with consequences.” General McChrystal completes the hat trick with this dire parallel, “President Trump has updated the [Confederate] Lost Cause with his ‘Stop the Steal’ narrative, that they lost because of a stolen election,” thus driving the extremist base. Trump gave them “legitimacy to become even more radical,” McChrystal informed Yahoo News.
Trump’s calculated martyrdom is his last desperate play to resurrect a Lost Cause replay of this southern myth. That abysmal rewriting of history posited how Southern belligerence was justified, with noble, romantic aims. The Civil War was never thus about plantation slavery nor oppressing blacks, but an heroic quest, reflecting the superior Southern culture of grace, honor, civility and glory vs. the greedy, mercantile, wealth-obsessed North. As with Trump, all Lost Cause scams are about redemption and the magical return of overt deplorables to legitimacy. Thus, for over a century all those public, post-war statures that glorified traitors (many toppled).
How different is the South’s Lost Cause scheme from Trump’s much cruder “Stop the Steal”? In Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong and Teaching What Really Happened, sociology professor James W. Loewen establishes that “Confederates won with the pen (and the noose) what they could not win on the battlefield: the cause of white supremacy and the dominant understanding of what the war was all about.” Lost Causes, whether Trump’s or the Confederacy’s, represent the ultimate fake news, trying to win with propaganda what reality emphatically withheld. The worst outcome from the Civil War was/is to sustain 1860’s tensions, reinforced now by discrimination, institutionalized racism and hiring police to brutalize law-abiding black citizens.
The slave-holding, Southern rebellion will never “rise again,” but Trumpism, with or without the Conniver-in chief, is the greatest menace to the US of A, dwarfing the now hard-fought coronavirus pandemic. The only way to “Stop the Steal” lost cause is for the current crop of elected Retrumplicans to reverse course (and perhaps keep their national party from disintegration). If elections, let alone Congressional operations, are not sacrosanct, then doomsayers claiming America is finished will be proved right.
Remember, the Confederacy, always a long shot to win on the battlefield, caused four years of unspeakable disruption, and hundreds of thousands of deaths, without resolving the underlying cultural, political or moral/ racial conflicts. Few doubted that America would overcome 9/11 attacks; many more today are not so sure about Trumpism, when aided and abetted by a craven national party’s leadership. If looking to foment a new kind of civil war, MAGA terrorism is more dangerous than religious fanatics thousands of miles away.