There’s some stuff I’ve been meaning to get off my chest …

First and foremost, I can disagree with you politically and love my country every bit as much as you do. Furthermore, should you disagree with me, you’ll never hear me say, “love it or leave it.” All too often, I find the people who say this don’t want me to love my country as much as they want (demand) I agree with them; and because I don’t, they want me to leave. That’s not freedom. It’s the exact opposite.

Furthermore, just as neither side of our political debate has a monopoly on love of country, neither has a monopoly on Godliness. In fact, I don’t think God takes sides in politics. I’m reminded of what Abraham Lincoln said in his second inaugural address about the two sides fighting America’s bloodiest war: “Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes.”

“The Almighty has His own purposes.” Translation: God sided with neither the Union nor the Confederacy. If He favored neither side of that near-ruinous political fracture, I seriously doubt he favors Republicans or Democrats now.

And speaking of the Almighty …

The president was not placed in office by God. He was elected by humans and is, by Constitution and law, subject to the scrutiny of those humans. Even (especially) the ones who didn’t vote for him.

As such, disagreeing with the president, and even making fun of him occasionally doesn’t mean I don’t respect the office. I respect the office greatly. I just wish the president had more respect for his office and those who preceded him in that office; and I have a Constitutional right to express my disdain. (Also, you have every right to disagree with me. Go ahead. I don’t mind. It’s how I know I’m free.) Just know I didn’t claim you were unpatriotic when you vociferously disagreed with presidents you didn’t like. Please afford me the same courtesy.

And speaking of patriotism …

Patriotism is much more than simply flying a flag, singing a song or reciting a pledge. All those things are symbols of our freedoms, but they are not our freedoms. If, in protest, a citizen chooses to not sing the song or recite the pledge, it does not mean they hate the country. It could very well mean they love their country so much, they desperately want it to live up to its founding principles of freedom, equality, and equal justice under the law.

And speaking of protest …

The saying goes, “politics have no place in sports or entertainment.”

Bull.

Celebrities and athletes are citizens, aren’t they? Why should their celebrity, wealth or talent preclude them from exercising their rights? Besides, our republic has survived wars, famines, floods, earthquakes, depressions, recessions, a volcanic eruption and reality television. I don’t think it’s going to crumble under the weight of George Clooney’s opinions, Kanye West defending the president on “Saturday Night Live,” the views of the ladies of, “The View,” the rants of Ted Nugent, or anyone else speaking freely.

So again, if I disagree with you, it doesn’t mean I hate the country, I want babies to die, I want old people to suffer, I want the troops to fail, or I wish financial ruin on all of us — and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m stupid. It just means I differ with you politically.

Deal with it. And don’t waste your breath telling me to leave. It’s my country, too. I’m not going anywhere.

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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