I am a Patriot

I am a patriot, American born and bred and I love my native land. I have traveled widely beyond our borders and that has taught me at least two things: First, every country I have visited, even the poorer ones, have their own unique beauty and pride. I have loved the people of every country I have visited. Second, I love my country, even as I love every other country I have visited. I am proud to be an American.

I am a patriot, and a Democrat. While I usually vote for Democratic candidates at every level, I have voted for Republican candidates at every level. I intend to continue that pattern, usually voting for Democrats but always willing to vote for Republican candidates. I have even voted third party and write-in on rare occasions. I am under no illusions that either major party can solve all our problems. We need one another. While I hold liberal positions on some issues, I hold conservative views on other issues. Republicans are not my enemies. (Two of my favorite presidents were Republicans.)

I am a patriot with friends all over the political spectrum. Some of my best friends, dear friends, are Republicans–and I want it that way. When I served a congregation as their pastor for 38 years, I knew that the congregation spanned the political spectrum, for which I was and am grateful. As a pastor I never told the congregation how I was voting or how they should vote. In my 38 years of leading pastoral prayers on Sundays, I always prayed for the president without regard to party or my views.

I am a patriot and now that I am not the pastor of a congregation I am taking more freedom in expressing some of my political views and opinions. Especially have I done so in this season because so many of Trump’s words deeply offended my faith. I hope that anything I write about politics is drenched in honesty and grace. When that is not the case I ask for forgiveness.

As a patriot I write shortly after the peaceful transfer of power. I am grateful for that peaceful transfer. I did not vote for Mr. Trump. In fact, I was troubled by his candidacy from his announcement a year and a half ago. I watched every Republican debate and simply could not believe that he could win the party’s nomination. His continued pattern of reckless speech berating other candidates and sections of the American population troubled me deeply. When he won the nomination, I thought there was no way he could win the general election, even through Secretary Clinton had lots of baggage and high unfavorable numbers.

Early on last November 9 we found out that Trump won the electoral vote, though in the days following we found out that Clinton won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. That bothers me. We found out about very probable Russian interference in the election and that bothers me. I found FBI director Comey’s letter to congress 10 days before the election and then retraction of concern a week later very troubling. When Trump backers are troubled that the legitimacy of his presidency is questioned, I remind them that Trump publicly questioned the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency for several years.

I am a patriot and now Trump is president. My president. I accept that, even with the cloud over the election mandate. I will not say that he is not my president as long as he holds the office. What will I do about his presidency?

First, I will pray for him. As a follower of Jesus I am under orders to pray for those in authority. I am doing so and will do so.

Second, I will support his initiatives whenever I can. I will read and listen carefully and give him the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. I believe that he wants America to be great and prosperous.

Third, I will oppose him whenever I believe his actions are not in the best interests of our country and our world. I will always seek to do so in the great Christian tradition of respectful civil disobedience.

I am a patriot, but I am not a nationalist. There is a difference.  I believe that nationalism is dangerous wherever practiced. My nation is often right and often wrong. I love it enough to criticize it. I love it enough to resist when I thing it is wrong.

As a patriot I will not give my country absolute or unqualified allegiance. My absolute and unqualified allegiance will be given only to God and what the New Testament calls the kingdom of God. I will not bow the knee to any governmental leader. I will not make an idol of my country.

As a patriot I am troubled by “America first” language. I want America to prosper and peace to prevail, but I will not hold my nation to be superior to any other nation. I want God to bless all nations. I want my nation to be known for its goodness more than its greatness. As Lincoln often said, I believe that right makes might–and not the reverse.

As a patriot I will continue to respect and hold in high regard Barack Obama. While a flawed human being and, like everyone to hold that office, a flawed president, I found so much commendable in his public life and in his personal life. I have great affection for President Obama and Michelle Obama. Hence, I will recoil strenuously at any comments that belittle him, his wife, and his daughters. The Obamas are great patriots. I give thanks for their service to our nation.

No matter who our president is, about half the nation is not happy with him (and someday soon, I hope, her). Lincoln is my favorite president and he was reviled and hated by millions. The man who assassinated Lincoln thought that his heinous act would make him a hero to millions of Americans. Hanging in my study is a copy of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I am reading it again, humbled by his humility, wisdom, and grace in our nation’s greatest trial.

While I object to so much Trump has said–and done–I will not hate him. I hope that his time in office is marked by peace and prosperity, with “liberty and justice for all.” I hope that his wife and family are held in respect.

I am a patriot.

 

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