I joined the ship at Port Newark, age 65, Ordinary Seaman, 8 to 12 watch, September, 2012. We left New York to run down the coast before heading east through the Suez Canal to Singapore, a 70 day round trip. Our first stop was Charleston, South Carolina, a place I had visited 38 years earlier when taking a swordfish boat from New England to the Gulf for a bootleg spring fishery. Now, coming in to Charleston, my duty was on the bow, with the bosun and the second mate, to assist in throwing lines once we reached the dock.
It was a cold dark dawn, before sunrise, and the second mate, Roy, nearly my age and about to retire, waved an arm toward Charleston. “It started right here,” he told me. “The War of Northern Aggression.” I had heard the conflict reported as the Civil War, or the War Between the States, but the War of Northern Aggression was new to me. He explained, happy to teach, and I listened as we ghosted across the dark water, chilly, the cold air flowing across the bow. In his telling, the conflict happened because the Northern States, jealous of the more efficient southern plantations, chose to invade the south and stamp out its competition. The war was not about slavery, not at all. It was an unprovoked attack on the southern culture and way of life, never acknowledged, and intensified even today with demands to remove statues and provide reparations, all to continue the humiliation. I knew enough to keep my mouth shut, not argue. Roy was not someone to be argued with. He was my most direct and up-close encounter with a Lost Cause adherent, and I could see its power, its longing, its righteous victim-hood.
The Civil War ended 155 and more years ago. It is said history is written by the winners, and the North won, as did the North’s reality, but throughout these 155 years another reality has been suggested, another interpretation of history – the great “Lost Cause” – and while it may be untrue and false, it is believed true by millions. I think we are now seeing, today, how, when facts and belief are presented, some times strength of belief trumps facts, because, even if the facts are true, if most people don’t believe them, then what use is that truth?
I see another Lost Cause growing right before my eyes, before all of us. This is not about slavery, or the south. Instead, it is about the election that just took place. Based on 50 state elections boards, the Department of Homeland Security, over 35 lawsuits, and all the norms of recent elections counting and projections and calling, the election is over, the result very clear. This was an election when both the popular and electoral vote fell for the same candidate, and the margin was large. Yet, those on the losing side, convinced the only fair result is the result where they prevail, and buttressed by no evidence but many allegations, are now choosing to believe the election has been stolen. They have been disenfranchised, and robbed, and victimized, crushed by a vast conspiracy that includes the Democrats, poll workers in at least 6 states, Venezuela, Cuba, China, George Soros, the Clinton Foundation, the FBI, deep state judges, a voting machine manufacturer and another software provider, and all members of the mainstream media. Further, this conspiracy has been so clever and secret that nobody – not the 900,000 poll workers across the country, not over 35 judges, not the 50 state elections boards – has seen it.
This is going to be the new, and next, Lost Cause – a stolen election, a vast cabal of deep state actors, the media, elites – conspiring to keep their thumb on the throat of the true patriots, the real Americans, who should have won in a landslide, who had been told they would win in a landslide, and who have now been robbed.
They were told for months mail-in voting was subject to fraud, to vote in person. They were told again and again to go to the poll booth on Election day, and they did. This year there has been a great plague on the land, keeping people isolated, and even this plague has become politicized, such that those who chose to vote in person felt the plague was a liberal hoax, and those who considered the plague real chose to mail in their ballots. Thus, and this was widely reported in the weeks before the election, it would be the case that on election night the results would show one candidate ahead, from the in-person ballots, but then the other would come back and even move ahead as the mail-in votes were counted. This “shift” was exacerbated because some states – “Red” states, mostly – decided to hold off counting of mail-in ballots until the day of election. It was widely understood, therefore, that the mail-in ballots would be greatly in favor of one candidate, the challenger, and this is what happened. This was predicted. Now, however, that change in vote totals appears, to those of the Lost Cause, suspicious, unnatural, dishonest. Recounts have been demanded, lawsuits filed. The recounts have supported the initial results. The lawsuits have failed. Now, therefore, the judges are considered corrupt. It seems even the Department of Justice, long beneath a supporter of the President, must be in on the deception as well, for, not having indicted or charged anyone with voter fraud, the Lost Cause members refuse to see a lack of voter fraud. Instead, they see see the deep state, and a conspiracy.
Yet the new Lost Cause has only become more vibrant, more romantic, increasing in feeling and depth of emotion as court cases fail, as the real evidence continues to reaffirm the election results. There seems to be no group, no individual, within that population who supported the losing candidate willing to come forth and, as some would say, “call bullshit.”
Where is today’s Margaret Chase Smith? Where are the Republican Senators in favor of democracy instead of power? In 1974 it was Republicans who called bullshit on Mr. Nixon’s actions. Mrs. Smith punctured the McCarthy balloon in the early 1950s.
Absent such push back, the Lost Cause now being manufactured will become dangerous. Millions of people, feeling disenfranchised, will now feel victimized as well, unjustly deprived of their desire. Lacking evidence of fraud, they nevertheless believe, without evidence, “their” election has been stolen because their leader and his minions tell them so. It is doubtful they will listen to the other side, the winning side, for evidence. A very few among them, courageous, principled state election officials of their party, have called bullshit, and continue to stand tall, but where are their moral leaders? Their principled conservative spokesmen and women? Where?
Absent urgent and strong push back, this new Lost Cause, like the earlier great Lost Cause, stands to infect the future for decades.