Democracy is under attack in all corners of the United States. The threat comes from loud, obnoxious, rude dissidents who care nothing about the nation or their communities. Most of the anger and hate comes from Republicans, now known as the party that still overwhelmingly supports disgraced former President Donald Trump.
Political folly has become cancer that now infects nearly every part of every community. We see it here in Floyd, where rude and insulting speakers disrupt meetings of the school board and the county board of supervisors.
“Republicans have kept a gambit going where they gin up hate for political gain,” writes Leo Gerard, former president of the United Steelworkers. “They blame undocumented immigrants for crime and unemployment. They actually suggest armed patrols of American Muslim communities.”
It’s widespread, infecting even Floyd County. We see anger disrupting Floyd Town Council, where disruptive new council member David Whitaker is now suing the very government he is supposed to serve because they tried to enforce a sign ordinance he continues to ignore.
Whitaker is an angry malcontent who attacks other elected officials publicly when they question his disruptive tactics. He was an officer of the County GOP, which is controlled by the fringe extremists who genuflect to images of disgraced former president Donald Trump.
Whittaker’s political leanings are illustrated in attacks on immigrants, including those who helped us in Afghanistan and are now seeking asylum and a better chance at life here in America. He attacked Little River Supervisor Linda DeVito publicly, questioning her right to speak out against his disruptive actions, claiming he has no right to speak at the council meeting because she is a resident of Little River District and not the town
What’s next? Checkpoints and armed guards for county residents who want to enter town limits? An outlandish, extreme example? Of course, but extremism is a tool of such dissidents.
“Take action now,” he warns the Town Council and County Board. “People are watching and many people are willing to take your places if you fail our law enforcement.”
Sadly, he’s not alone. After the elections on Nov. 2, the board of supervisors will have at least one loud troublemaking right-winger on their board and possibly a second — both “proud vocal Trump supporters” with disruptive histories.
Kalinda Bechtold, a self-declared “Constitutional Christian Conservative,” had to be escorted out of a school board meeting after she refused to wear a mask, required in the high school auditorium and elsewhere in our schools because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now is my time to make a difference,” she declares. Lord help us. She is the GOP nominee for Indian Valley, which makes her election automatic as she replaces Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Coleman, who is stepping down after one term.
In the Courthouse District, Jennifer Miller brags about being “a voice for conservatives” ever since she “stepped on that Trump Train” and claims “we need to pump the brakes on liberalism” in Floyd County politics.
Liberalism? In Floyd County? Since when?
Miller is trying to unseat supervisor Jerry Boothe, an independent who has been both a Republican and a Democrat in previous political lives. He says being independent gives him a chance to listen to, and support the varied interests of the changing district.
We’ve watched Boothe over the years on the board and have yet to see any of the feared liberalism that Miller claims to see in Floyd County politics. We have seen common sense, something missing in the diatribes and actions of Miller or her dissident cohort in Indian Valley.
What we are also are not seeing is much truth in the attempts of dissidents like Whitaker, Bechtold, or Miller, who are trying a seize control of our county government, just other noisemakers trying to do the same in localities, states, and nationally in this nation where democracy is under attack.
Whitaker is aided by delegate-seeking Marie March, who claims “I ride horses, not fences! You won’t get a wishy-washy, fence-ridin’, yellow-bellied politician here.”
Looks like we won’t get any politeness or decency either. She is helping a last-minute “write-in” candidacy for Whitaker to replace Will Griffin as Floyd’s mayor. He claims “support and encouragement of community members seeking a fiscally-conservative, Christians candidate.”
Do you notice that they all brag about being “Christian Conservatives?” Are they the only believers they plan to serve in our area? A lot of devout people practice religions that are not considered “Christian.” Jewish, for example. We have a lot practicing that faith. The same for Muslims, or Buddhists, or other forms. Recent polls show most Americans now consider themselves believers of God but are not a member of any religious faith
Griffin says town council members are supposed to run as independents and values “keeping party politics our of our half-square town decisions.”
Don’t bet on that attitude continuing if hard-core partisan Whitaker becomes mayor.