My fellow Americans, we need a political middle again | Whale

For the poor beleaguered voter in the coming elections, I offer this piece of advice — beware of the stealth candidate.

The would-be office holder who presents himself or herself outwardly as more or less reasonable and salutes the flag on July 4, but whose head is abuzz with schemes antithetical to what the American flag represents. The candidate who, once in office would threaten the continued existence of the United States as a free Democratic Republic.

I write here about those Americans who have never been at ease with the U.S. Constitution, which presents still radical ideas about freedom of speech and of the press, and who now want to game our system so they and only those who share their beliefs win elections and wield power from now on.

Their election would lead to a diminution of rights we have long held dear.

Speaking at a recent religious service in Colorado, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) told worshipers: “The church is supposed to direct the government. The government is not supposed to direct the church. That is not how our Founding Fathers intended it.

“I’m tired of this separation of church and state junk, that’s not in the Constitution,” Boebert added. “It was in a stinking letter, and it means nothing like what they say it does.”

(“Stinking letter” is a reference is Thomas Jefferson’s famous letter to the Danbury Baptist Church Association of Connecticut, which contains the first use of the phrase “separation of church and state.”)

The power stoking much of the current discontent, though by no means the only one, is former President Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon, one of the architects of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection. Bannon makes no bones about what he wants: to dismantle the government brick by brick and replace it with an authoritarian government, ruled by one party — his party.

Bannon’s “precinct strategy” encourages hard-right Trumpist candidates to run for every office, from the humblest water district commissioners to election officials to top dogs. The ultimate idea is that, should another president, or lesser candidate, try to overturn the result of an election they did not win, there would be no more watchers in place to stop them, only servile toadies.

At one time, Boebert, Bannon and their ilk would have counted as fringe elements of the far right whom we could ignore without consequence. At one time, we could have shrugged them off.

But not now.

At this moment, there are too many busy beavers out there, laying the ground work in every state to realize their anti-American ideas at every level of government.

Don’t believe it could happen?

Look no further than the city of Sequim in Clallam County, Washington, where Q Anon conspiracy theorists have engineered a takeover of the city government.

Look, I am not complaining about Republicans. I do not dislike Republicans. I count among family and friends many decent Republicans. But I make a careful distinction between them and what the party has become in recent years. It’s the mutation from the days of Republicans like former Gov. Dan Evans that I detest.

Last week, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene suggested that the Republican Party should rename itself “The Christian Nationalist Party.”

If that is what Green is after, she should drop all pretense and say what she really means: The White Christian Nationalist Party. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln in this instance, Ms. Greene, I would prefer to take my despotism pure, “without the base alloy of hypocrisy.”

By the way, I hold no brief for far-left Democrats either, many of whom are nothing but walking grievance machines, taking offense at everything said and done. They offer plenty to detest.

I am a moderate. So was Lincoln. As such, I count myself in good company.

An old saying holds that “the only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow stripe.” But as I have always distrusted the extension of asphalt and paint metaphors to politics, let me speak in practical terms about that stripe in the middle of the road. It’s there to keep fast-moving vehicles in the left and right lanes from crashing into each other and killing people.

What we need, what we desperately need at this perilous moment in our nation’s history, is something between the crazies in both lanes. And both sides of the aisle have those crazies.

We need a political middle again.

And as a patriotic American citizen, I ask, what could more central to who we are than separation of church and state? And free elections? These things define us.

But today they stand on a razor’s edge.

Take the issue of the separation of church and state.

There is a pernicious notion out there that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. It was not. While there were many Christians among the ranks of the founders, they were not all Christians.

I would have thought the wording of Article 11 of the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli would have settled the matter.

The treaty, which was intended to end the predations of the Barbary Pirates, is often cited in discussions regarding the role of religion in United States government because of a clause in the English language American version, which states that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” It was signed by every single member of the Senate at that time, among them a number of signatories of the U.S. Constitution.

So, voter, do your research. Find out what the candidate really thinks.

As for me, I want no Trojan horses welcomed in by deception only to see people sneak out of it in the the middle of the night to sack the city.

Robert Whale can be reached at