Caroline E. Janney’s prescient and learned Aug. 2 Outlook essay, “The next Lost Cause,” understood the ominous parallels between Confederate Lost Cause ideology and today’s Trumpist, ahistoric constructs. She knew, too, that though history doesn’t repeat, it does echo. 

Preventing MAGA reverberations from roiling through the coming decades, however, requires actions that the good men who won the war for the Union left incomplete. First is to understand that the Republican Party, like the Confederacy, is beyond redemption. It needs to be condemned, root and branch. There is no going back to some idyllic mainstream. Second, the hard-won fruits of victory have to be constantly defended. The men who left home, family and peacetime occupations to save the Union and end slavery longed to put aside the tools of war, reconcile with their onetime enemies and get on with their lives. 

To be on the right side of history today requires organizing grass-roots community involvement, educating beyond like-minded allies, voting in all elections and personally participating when the call goes out for volunteers. Lasting democracy is hard-won but easily lost. It almost happened 155 years ago. It is almost happening now.

Gordon Berg, Gaithersburg

Caroline E. Janney’s essay on how President Trump and his followers may concoct a self-justifying “Lost Cause” myth was both enlightening and thoughtful. We can potentially avoid this historical poisoning, however. One reason postwar Nazis were unable to establish a “Lost Cause” narrative was that the Nuremberg Military Tribunals publicly exposed criminality and dispensed just punishments. In contrast, Confederate traitors faced neither trial nor punishment, and national reconciliation came at the expense of African Americans’ rights and honest historical examination.

Our democratic system requires rule of law. Those who violated our Constitution, laws and principles must be held accountable. No reconciliation this time. Trumpism must end here and now. The Nuremberg trials should be the model that guides post-Trump America.

Chris Centner, Reston