MARCANO: Three of Trump’s key ideas have stayed behind

Ray Marcano

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Ray Marcano

I haven’t paid much attention to the January 6 investigation.

And I’m not paying attention to whether the Department of Justice charges or doesn’t charge Donald Trump. They will or they won’t, and they only will if they think they have a very strong case proving whatever they charge him with.

I am paying a lot of attention to the issues we’re not discussing and should. Because no matter what the committee report says and what the DOJ decides, Trump’s ideas won’t die, not for a long time.

“He has this charismatic hold on people in the sense that if he says something, no matter what it is, they believe him,” Robert C. Smith, the professor emeritus at San Francisco State University nationally known for his research on race and politics, said in an interview. “And I don’t see how that can change because no one in the GOP of stature has been willing to come forward and challenge him.”

What ideas? The three big ones — normalizing white nationalism, providing a roadmap for subverting legitimate elections and violence.

We’re seeing evidence of that everywhere.

White nationalism: In a phone call with then GOP leader Paul Ryan he called a group of nationalists and Neo-Nazi’s “my people,” has consistently denigrated people of color (rapists, criminals, etc.), and employed two people sympathetic to white nationalists, Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, in the White House. Democrats try to demagogue this as a Republican problem, and it is not. A Morning Consult poll showed that 23% of Republican men and 17% of men in the Democratic party held a favorable or somewhat favorable impression of nationalist groups.

Elections: Last week, In New Mexico, the Otero County commissioners refused to initially certify election results because they had a gut feeling — no proof — that voting machines had somehow been rigged. One of the commissioners was at the Capitol during the riot and was sentenced to jail for his role. The New Mexico Supreme Court had to order the Republican-led commission to certify the tallies. That’s the roadmap. Get commissioners charged with certifying votes to overrule results if it suits them and take your chances in court. Or, do what Ohio Republicans lawmakers did during redistricting. Blatantly ignore voters and the law and dare someone to challenge them.

Violence: We all know about 1/6, but that’s the tip of the iceberg. Just this month, in Idaho, police arrested 31 members of the white nationalist and supremacist Patriot Front who authorities said had come from several states to riot at and disrupt a pride event. We have people threatening a supreme court justice and members of the 1/6 committee. And we have nationalists, like in Buffalo, killing Black people.

I’ve written that I consider Trump the most powerful ex-president ever, but I’m going to amend that. He’s the most powerful and most savvy politician in America today. He has successfully melded the three towers of nationalism, election doubt, and violence into a powerful triumvirate with tens of millions of followers, Republicans and Democrats alike.

No matter what the January 6 committee does, Trump’s ideas will stay behind. As we’ve already seen, there are plenty of people willing to implement them in twisted logic based on gut intuition and rage.

Smith called Trump’s ideas “remarkable” because he’s taken control of the GOP but because his ideas have taken root in many parts of American society.

I’m going to keep repeating that because it’s critical to understand how pervasive these ideas have become. Plenty of Democrats believe them, too.

Trump has drawn a dangerous map that far too many people would have no problem following. The country has suffered through chaos before and come out just fine. But the difference here is the most powerful politician in America is leading the charge.

That’s scary.

MY TALK WITH CONSERVATIVES: I asked for a gathering of conservatives to better understand their points of view. That discussion, with eight people, happens Monday (June 27). You’ll read about it over the coming weeks.

Ray Marcano’s column appears on these pages each Sunday. You can ask him a question or leave a comment at