The surrender of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to U.S. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Va., effectively signaled the end of the Southern insurrection against the United States. But it did not end the devotion to white supremacy and the country’s racial caste system that caused the South to secede from the union in the first place.
And neither did the certification of electoral college votes, in a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, halt ideologically motivated extremists with objections to the 2020 election results and the presidential transition from mobilizing to incite or commit violence.
The same kind of hostility to the exercise of government authority that drove Southern troops to take up arms against their country in 1861 also infected and drove the mob of Trump supporters to invade and desecrate the U.S. Capitol.
A semblance of that hostility exists within the minds of the nearly 70 percent of Republicans who say they don’t think the 2020 presidential election was free and fair. Face it: They are not now, nor are they likely to be, supporters of President Biden and Vice President Harris. Many supporters of the defeated and disgraced Donald Trump consider a Democratic-led House and Senate to be threats to their way of life.
If you are hoping for a kumbaya spirit to descend upon Washington, leading a Trump-inspired opposition to find ways to work with a Biden administration in peace and harmony, fuggedaboutit.
To recall: Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House ushered in a brief post-slavery democratic experiment called Reconstruction. That hopeful progress was destroyed by the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror, Black Codes and Jim Crow laws created by Southern governors and state legislatures, along with the deliberate disenfranchisement of Black Americans.
So, too, will there be a push to retake lost ground this time around. Democrats have prevailed, but Trumpism is still here. Adherents feel victimized by what they see as a corrupt electoral system that took down the “real” winner. They will not accept the legitimacy of the Biden administration. Differences are irreconcilable.
For millions, only restoration of the Trump era will do.
So it’s time to stop dancing in the end zone over the Biden-Harris victory. Don’t sit back watching with arms folded. The Biden team, through its appointments and proposals thus far, is moving in the right direction. Give them a hand. As President Barack Obama discovered the hard way, an administration up against recalcitrant forces in Congress can’t do it alone. Playing spectator is tantamount to helping Republicans go in for the kill.
The overriding interest should be the protection and expansion of what was achieved at the polls last fall.
Today’s Democratic margin in the House is thin; the margin in the Senate is thinner. If Democrats lose both in the 2022 midterms, Biden and Harris will hear the call: “game, set, match.”
Jaime Harrison, the incoming Democratic National Committee chairman, knows what’s at stake. “I have no intention of letting victory turn into complacency, because we have seen what happens when we don’t invest everywhere,” Harrison said.
Republicans, given their gains last year, are optimistic they can swing back the House in 2022. The GOP is also aiming to regain the Senate. Now — not next year — is the time to focus on Senate battleground states such as Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New Hampshire and, once again, Georgia, where Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, who won this month’s special election, will seek a full term.
Those races won’t take care of themselves. They warrant the Georgia ground-game treatment that just brought Warnock and Sen. Jon Ossoff to Washington. That’s not something to wish for — it must be done, starting now.
Many leaders in the Reconstruction Era underestimated the Redeemers — the Southern wing of the Democratic Party — who rose up to restore their political power and white supremacy. There is no excuse for repeating that mistake. Trumpism will be set on grabbing control back in 2022. Tearing down Biden and regaining both bodies of Congress are absolute goals.
No, this isn’t 1877, when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes sold out the rights and privileges of freed slaves.
This is 2021, and the mob is assembled. This week, the Department of Homeland Security warned that domestic violent extremists of the ilk that breached the Capitol are emboldened.
If complacency prevails, this month’s certification of the electoral college vote will become the Appomattox Court House of our day.Image Credits: Samuel Corum/Getty Images