‘Where You Belong’ or Where Freedom Rings

I am not sure I would belong in this particular hell created by a newly elected Ottawa, Michigan County Board. The title (above [in case you forgot where it is]) change (left to right) embraces the newly elected leadership thoughts on how to run a county. The county can be found on the southwest side of Michigan. It includes the cities of Holland where the Tulip Festival is held and Grand Haven. Pretty area, my wife and I would grab lunch on the lake and watch the expensive boats come into dock.

There must be something in the drinking water these days as the area has taken a radical turn to lunacy. Perhaps, the original motto of ‘Where You Belong’ is more appropriate than the new motto of ‘Where Freedom Rings’, ‘Where You Belong’ is a descriptor for a particular type of hell, a voter turnout caused hell.

“Voter turnout for August in Ottawa County was 34.3%. Meaning of the 224,301 registered voters who were eligible to cast ballots, 66% of them didn’t vote” accounting to a local Michigan newspaper the “Holland Sentinel.”

Is this a voter mandate? Grand Valley State University professor of political science at Grand Valley State University Whitt Kilburn thinks not.

“To have a voter mandate, you really need to have a candidate or an issue that can see broad support from both parties. It can’t happen when there’s one party that is divided within itself, which is what we’re seeing in Ottawa County.”

What is happening or has happened in Ottawa, Michigan and elsewhere is an ideology battle between two segments of the Republican Party.

“A cannibalistic mentality the conservative movement saw emerge with the rise of former President Donald Trump and which has now filtered into local governments. It’s very much, you have to be in line with the ideology or you’re pushed out.”

This rise of the trumpians, I expect to die out. A last hurrah by small pockets. If you can tolerate a longer read, catch the Washington Post article which is also displayed on MSN. It is excellent.

In a thriving Michigan county, a community goes to war with itself,” msn.com, Greg Jaffe and Patrick Marley at the Washington Post of the same title.

WEST OLIVE, Mich. — Eight new members of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners had run for office promising to “thwart tyranny” in their lakeside Michigan community of 300,000 people.

In this case the oppressive force they aimed to thwart was the county government they now ran. It was early January, their first day in charge. An American flag held down a spot at the front of the board’s windowless meeting room. Sea-foam green carpet covered the floor.

All Republicans, the new commissioners swore the oaths of office on family Bibles. And then the firings began. Gone was the lawyer who represented Ottawa County for 40 years. Gone was the county administrator who oversaw a staff of 1,800. To run the health department, they voted to install a service manager from a local HVAC company who had gained prominence as a critic of mask mandates.

As the session entered its fourth hour the board’s new vice chair, Sylvia Rhodea put forward a motion to change the motto that sat atop the county’s website and graced its official stationery.

“Whereas the vision statement of ‘Where You Belong’ has been used to promote the divisive Marxist ideology of the race, equity movement.”

AB: A political commentary describing which way the wind blows with these newbies in developing their utopia.

The commission’s lone Democrat gazed out in disbelief. A few seats away, the commission’s new chair savored the moment.

“There’s just some really beautiful language in this,” before calling for a vote on the resolution. It passed easily.

A cheer went up in the room, which on this morning was about three-fourths full, but in the coming weeks it would be packed with so many angry people calling each other “fascists,” “communists,” “Christian nationalists” and “racists.” The county would have to open an overflow room down the hall.

The new slogan was largely the brainchild of Joe Moss, the 37-year-old new chair of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners and a newcomer to politics. Moss and his fellow commissioners oversaw a thriving county with a budget of $230 million. On a wall at the front of the meeting room where he now presided were 16 framed photographs of earlier boards, made up almost entirely of White, pro-business Republicans in jackets and ties.

Many of those commissioners traced their roots back to the county’s early Dutch settlers from whom they inherited a Calvinist appreciation for thrift and moderation. They rarely spent more than a few hundred dollars on election campaigns and took pride in the county’s AAA bond rating, fiscal discipline and low taxes.

Under their leadership, Ottawa County prospered. It had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Michigan and, since 2010, has been the fastest growing county in the state. Board meetings were civil, orderly and, until recently, sparsely attended. “We were rolling along good,” said Greg DeJong, a Republican who spent 12 years on the board before he was unseated. “No one came to our meetings before covid.”

Moss inhabited a different world than his predecessors. Like so many rising leaders in today’s Republican Party, his view of his country and its politics was shaped by his faith and his church, one of dozens of big evangelical congregations that had taken root amid the county’s sprawling farms and freshly sprouted subdivisions.

In these churches, traditional hymns and organ music had been replaced by electric guitars, drums, colored lights, smoke machines and modern praise songs. God existed as a tangible force at work in the county’s everyday business, battling a Devil whose presence was just as real and uncompromising.

On a typical Sunday at Moss’s Wellspring Church, people swayed and sang as the band worked its way through the 30-minute set that began every service. Then they settled into the pews and listened as their pastor warned of the “many people” in the country who were

“trying to destroy everything that is righteous and good and pure and holy.”

They were the sort, he said, who were demanding free condoms at school, “gender fluidity books” in the public library and drag queen story hours.

Catch the rest of the story here; The Washington Post or here msn.com.

I am a former resident of Michigan who was appointed to a Planning Commission position by Republicans and also sat as the Vice Chair on the same commission as nominated. The county was also majority Republican.