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HomePoliticsPoliticsCONSTITUTIONAL COUNTIES: A Place of Darkness


Are we being engulfed in darkness?

On Monday, April 25, 2023, Livingston County commissioners made a decision. According to on April 25, 2023, “The Livingston County Board of Commissioners declared its jurisdiction a ‘constitutional county’ on Monday, April 24, in a resolution reaffirming its stance on Second Amendment protections.”

On Tuesday, May 23, 2023, the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners made the same decision. In a 9-1 vote, which came after roughly five hours of commentary from 102 county residents (most of whom were opposed) Ottawa County declared itself to be a “constitutional county.” (Commissioner Doug Zylstra was the sole no vote. Commissioner Roger Bergman was absent.)

The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners made other startling slams at the liberties of the citizens in their county as well.  The county motto was changed from “Where You Belong”, which was deemed Marxist, to “Let Freedom Ring”. Immediately upon taking office, the board fired administrator John Shay and replaced him without conducting a public interview.  They also eliminated the county’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Office, and they chose a new health director to replace Lisa Stefanovsky, who had already been approved by the state.  In essence, they have assumed the responsibility of making decisions they believe they are better qualified to make than the residents they represent.  Many of these residents attended board meetings, opposed the changes, and were ignored. 

This seems rather contradictory for a group who claims that government has stopped representing the people it serves.  In statement after statement, they blatantly argue that citizens are being ignored, but the huge turnout of residents opposing them at their board meetings raises some questions regarding exactly what this group defines as representation.  The changes in both Ottawa and Livingston Counties are backed by a group called Impact Michigan, an organization that vows to take over Michigan politics and it’s doing a brisk business.

So, how did we get here?  How did we get to a place where being “simply American” is a nonsensical joke to people threatened by logic and anything different?

The answer is that we took for granted our freedoms.  Local elections such as county commissioner seats were ignored as trivial.  As Greg DeJong, a Republican who spent 12 years on the board before he was unseated noted in an interview, “no one came to our meetings before COVID.”  No one came.

Someone is coming now.  But is it too late?  Ottawa County residents are pouring into board meetings, but Ottawa Impact, a group that claims to be restoring America and the American family, ignored their input.  When citizens are ignored, the darkness grows, but it could have been prevented if Americans held the attitude that every election matters. Every election. Without question.

However, Americans tend to focus more on the national stage rather than local politics. On the national level, Americans did send the message that this ultra-mindset is not acceptable.  That’s why this new tactic has begun at the state level.  Go where Americans are not looking. Take advantage of complacency. Start small, change laws, and build upwards, and one morning Americans will get up out of bed to a very different country. 

Complacency is what got us here. 

And where is here?

HERE is an almost inconceivable place.  It’s a place where a force claiming to be protectors of the United States Constitution are silencing anyone who is different than them.  They are silencing those who suffered during mass shootings, people who watched their children die.  They are silencing those whose sexuality differs from theirs, whose definition of family does not line up.  And all of this they do in the name of a God, who they claim is loving, and a Constitution, which they claim places gun rights at the pinnacle of happiness.  It is a place of darkness.

Protecting the U.S. Constitution would be a good thing, if that is what were truly happening.  A constitutional county basically means that anything the county deems “unconstitutional” in terms of federal or state laws, they can ignore. Take a moment to listen to their rhetoric and intentions and it becomes clear that they are not that dissimilar to southern politicians just prior to the Civil War. 

Listen to our Podcasts “The Hijacking of Ottawa County.” You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts or on our website.

Ottawa County has declared that it will not use resources or funds for enforcing any law or rule that “restricts the rights of any law-abiding citizen affirmed by the United States Constitution,” or aid any state or federal agency that appears to be restricting rights. Basically, it means that they are taking this action because they don’t like the red flag laws.  Remember them?  They were created to address situations like the Oxford School District shooting where four children were killed and the Michigan State University shooting where three young adults were killed.

In the darkness of minds driven by fear, hearts hardened by fear, and lives crippled by prejudice, the central issue is about holding onto guns, not saving lives.  This is not a new debate, but the global COVID pandemic added fuel to the fire.

Humanity changed FOREVER during the pandemic, and change is something that some do not handle well.  Unfortunately, the year 2020 was new territory for all of humanity.  It reminded Americans that there was something larger than individual liberties: global survival.  Humanity had to work as a team. 

But that’s not the issue here.  How close humanity came to never recovering from the pandemic is something for historians in future decades to debate.  The issue here is that within the dark corners of 2020 a group began to emerge.  They claimed they are restoring God to our country.  They claimed they are restoring our national identity.  But most of all, they claimed they are protecting the Constitution.  However, they’re doing it by what appears to be attacks on America and everything it stands for since its inception.  This group will gladly explain to you how they are trying to save America by creating a narrative that continues to keep underrepresented groups quiet and guns in the hands of those who should not possess them.  And as they’re protecting “individual rights” they’re stripping away the rights of women to make decisions about their own bodies.

What are constitutional counties and where did they originate?

They began in “Second Amendment sanctuaries”, but they seek to go farther.  According to constitutional scholar John Finn, professor emeritus of government at Wesleyan University, “…where Second Amendment sanctuaries aim to create havens for gun rights allegedly under siege, the constitutional county movement has a broader agenda.”  And that agenda?  Well, according to one of the drafters of the Ottawa Resolution, “As we wrote this resolution … we recognized the need to protect not only Second Amendment rights but all constitutional rights. … We wish to highlight freedoms and constitutional rights which have been violated over the past few years, as well as those currently at risk due to societal and political pressures.”

Listen to our Podcasts “The Continuation of the Hijacking of Ottawa County.” You can also listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts or on our website.

Constitutional Counties are anything but constitutional, according to Finn, who notes that the concept of a Constitutional County “profoundly mistaken and undermines Americans’ collective commitment to constitutional democracy. Declaring oneself a constitutional county undermines the authority of officials authorized to act under the Constitution.”  He adds that this action “ultimately subverts the authority of the Constitution itself.”

One of the more deadly ways it does this is by instructing police not to uphold specific laws – for example, the red flag laws that address gun ownership by certain people – Finn argues violates Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution, which states that federal laws and the Constitution itself “the supreme Law of the Land” and cannot be overruled or superseded by state laws or laws at lower levels of government.

The “father” of the Constitutional County movement is a Montana man named Kirk MacKenzie, or at least he has publicly taken credit for the idea and has trademarked the name. In a podcast that can be seen on, McKenzie builds his premise on the idea that government is no longer what people think it is.  It’s gone off the rails.  In an episode called “Let’s Talk, Thoughts by Kirk MacKenzie” he claims that the Supreme Court “sneezes and the next day that sneeze is heard in the law books…what do you know it’s being enforced as if it is law.”  Taking no notice of the separation of church and state, he argues in his podcast that the Ten Commandments need to be reinstated.

MacKenzie claims this is a battle for the very identity of America, and he argues that the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is being taken away. Notably absent from his discussion are children being slaughtered in schools, racism that claims the dignity and opportunities of non-white Americans, and the basic rights of making medical decisions privately with a doctor or being able to simply marry the person you love.

MacKenzie’s voice emerged during the pandemic.  His podcasts reveal a man who believes himself to be the voice of logic and he stands firm on the fact that the Constitution cannot be changed…although it has been changed 27 times since 1789 and the Founding Fathers were on board with this.  (Thomas Jefferson actually advocated changing it on a regularly scheduled basis.)

The Constitution is intended to serve human beings, and that means things will inevitably change.  Think about it.  The concerns of the average person in 1776 are a far different animal than the concerns of a person in 2023.  MacKenzie, however, is not keen on the idea of change in America, and judging by their desire to instill “traditional” family structures, neither is the Ottawa and Livingston county commissioners. 

It’s actually unclear just how many “constitutional counties” exist in the United States, but Finn notes that there are self-designated constitutional counties in Virginia, Texas, Nevada and New York.  He believes more will follow, especially in the roughly 1,100 counties of the nation’s 3,200 counties that have already declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries according to an article he wrote for The

Fortunately, this is not the end of the story.  The darkness doesn’t need to win. If people start paying attention to all elections, not just the big ones, the darkness doesn’t win.  If we each commit to taking a stand for the safety, liberty, and freedom of ALL, the darkness doesn’t win.

On August 15, 2023 Branch County Commissioners made a decision.  They voted 4-1 to REJECT the move to become a “constitutional county.”

There is light in the darkness.

Watch the May 23, 2023 County Commission Board Meeting where commissioners hijacked the rights of its citizens to declare Ottawa County a ‘Constitutional County.’
Lynne Smelser
Lynne Smelser
Lynne is an incredibly accomplished and prolific writer, having amassed a portfolio that includes over 25 scripts, 40+ ghost-written books, a multitude of speeches, engaging website content and e-learning modules. Additionally, she has made her mark as the author of the children's book series, Noodles and Goo. Lynne is also a seasoned voice-over talent with a string of successful projects to her name. Her versatile voice brings life and depth to various endeavors. She also serves as a valuable freelance writer for LIVE. LOVE. LOCAL. MICHIGAN™ contributing her expertise across a wide range of subjects. With her vast skill set and passion for storytelling, Lynne promises to leave a lasting impact on the readers of LIVE. LOVE. LOCAL. MICHIGAN™.
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