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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

Our dark history echoes in a second Lost Cause

The most recent indictments against former President Trump sparked a thought for WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson. In his "On My Mind" commentary, he finds the parallels with another moment in history.

It has dawned on me lately that we are in the middle of a second Lost Cause.

We ain’t even done with the first one yet. The first Lost Cause — the idea that the Confederacy was an honorable thing, fought for by honorable men — still persists, more than 150 years after the Civil War ended, slavery was abolished and the South was left in ashes.

The current Lost Cause is devoted to the idea that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election — even though everybody from here to the Fox News election desk knows that he did not.

Last week brought a new round of indictments against the former president. These indictments get to the heart of the most serious charges against Trump — that despite all available evidence and all the advice from his staff, he pushed forward with the lie that he had beaten Joe Biden. That lie, and the other lies that surrounded it, led to the post-election chaos that peaked on Jan. 6, when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol and went headhunting for those who opposed him.

It's two and a half years later and Trump still says he won. And it's obvious at this point that, for the hardest of Trump’s hard core, there is no evidence that would change their minds. He could go on TV tomorrow and confess to every crime and they would say it was some sort of coded message to begin the revolution.

It's still more than a year before the 2024 election, but he is far in front of any other Republican candidate and a serious threat to become president again. That says a lot of things, none of them good for our country. It’s no longer about Democrat or Republican. It’s about whether you believe in free elections or not, whether you believe in the Constitution or not, whether you believe in democracy or not.

These are the same points you could make about the supporters of the first Lost Cause. In fact, the current Lost Cause has given a signal boost among some people who still believe in the first one. In Florida, the state is planning to teach schoolchildren that slavery had its benefits for the enslaved because they learned valuable skills along the way. This is like saying being placed in a torture rack has its benefits because it really improves your flexibility.

The governor of Florida is of course Ron DeSantis, who is running for president with the remarkable strategy of hoping to beat Trump without criticizing him in any substantial way. You will be shocked to hear that this is not working.

The supporters of the second Lost Cause, just like the supporters of the first, are willing to set the truth on fire because of what it would mean for them to be wrong. The descendants of the old Confederates can’t handle that their forefathers might have fought for an immoral institution. And the supporters of the current Lost Cause can’t abide the thought that they might have given their minds and hearts to an immoral man.

But it doesn’t matter what they think. What matters is the truth. Just because a bunch of people still fly Confederate flags doesn’t mean the rest of us have to pay attention. And just because a bunch of people still believe Trump won doesn’t mean the rest of us have to concede one inch of moral ground. The South won some battles. It’s possible Trump might win another election. But they will always be on the losing side.

Tommy Tomlinson’s "On My Mind" column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

Tommy Tomlinson has hosted the podcast SouthBound for WFAE since 2017. He also does a commentary, On My Mind, which airs every Monday.