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COMMENTARY

The Confederacy won (or thinks it can)

Members of Congress who endorse President Trump’s anti-democratic sideshow hail mostly from the former Confederate states

The base of the General Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond. The monument to the Confederate leader has become a magnet for political graffiti.
The base of the General Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond. The monument to the Confederate leader has become a magnet for political graffiti.Jacqueline Larma/Associated Press

Good for Charlie Baker.

The governor of Massachusetts called Wednesday’s planned putsch in Washington by his fellow Republicans what it is: an affront to democracy.

Alas, the Civil War is finally over, 155 years after Appomattox.

And the Confederacy won — or still somehow thinks it can.

Now, of course, the history books will have to be rewritten, sort of like how the president wants to rewrite the election results in Georgia and elsewhere.

Trump’s unhinged attempted electoral shakedown of the secretary of state in Georgia was breathtaking in its brazenness and audacity, its genesis and foundation resting entirely on tin-foil-hat conspiracy theories.

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If two dead people who supposedly took a ballot in Georgia withheld their vote from Trump, that merely proves that dead people have more sense than the living, breathing fools who are enabling a dangerous fantasy.

At this point, you would have to be either mentally unstable or a traitor to the Constitution to support Trump’s madness.

Leaving mental competence assessments aside, it is indisputable that the majority of members of Congress supporting Trump’s attempt to undermine constitutional democracy hail from states that formed the Confederacy.

Trump’s congressional lackeys today would have been Senator Jefferson Davis’s lackeys in 1861, as Davis begged his colleagues to allow the Southern states to secede. Or the clowns who tried to overturn the presidential election of 1876.

That’s when Democrats contested the results, holding out until Republicans agreed to halt Reconstruction. That was before the parties flipped into their modern incarnations.

Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who once traded gratuitous insults with Trump but is now among the president’s most abject enablers, cited the 1876 election, misleadingly claiming it gave precedent for congressional Republicans not to recognize Joe Biden’s election.

Ending Reconstruction was the first major mistake the federal government made in trying to appease traitors. In desperation to save the Union, the Northern states bent over backward to reintegrate the rebel states. In so doing, the North, blinded by its own institutional racism, allowed a lesser form of subjugation to continue by another name. Jim Crow left Black people at the mercy of bigoted traitors.

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Enabled by a Northern establishment intent on letting the South do whatever it wanted as long as it remained part of the Union, the Southern states maintained social and economic apartheid, using the ballot and the noose to deprive Black people of their right to vote and right to live.

We are paying the price for that Faustian deal to this day, siding with traitors instead of the descendants of slaves whose bondage represented the core rot of not just the Confederacy but of these United States.

Reengagement and reintegration with the Union were always cynical and conditional. The Confederate states thumbed their nose at the federal government, except when it came to taking handouts. They are, to this day, the biggest welfare clients in the country.

The federal government was so determined to have huge military bases throughout the South that it allowed them to be named after traitors: Bragg, Hood, Benning, and so forth.

The Confederate states voted solidly Democratic for nearly a century, to punish the party of Lincoln for ending slavery and their “way of life.”

About halfway through the 20th century, once it became clear Democrats were determined to legislate civil rights for Black people, those Confederate states became solidly Republican.

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With hindsight, it is easy to criticize the decisions that Lincoln and his successors made to restore and maintain the Union.

But history shows, and Wednesday’s congressional clown show will reaffirm, that successive federal governments made the wrong choice.

Now it’s time to choose right.

It is supremely ironic that the rump of the Confederacy has found its savior in that quintessential Yankee carpetbagger, Donald Trump, a New Yorker who loathes the US Constitution as much as they do.

If irredentists like Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri don’t want to live in a constitutional republic, by all means, let’s grant their wish.

To paraphrase the great philosopher Elsa, let ‘em go.


Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at kevin.cullen@globe.com.