Does it make me unpatriotic if I question the decisions of an administration that I don’t agree with? Does it make me unpatriotic if I vote against candidates who don’t stand for the things I believe in, even if that candidate is the majority leader? Does it make me unpatriotic because, if civil rights were eliminated, I would leave the country rather than running away into the woods? Does it make me unpatriotic because I would rather leave than die, starving in the woods, (allegedly) fighting the very government I am supposed to be supporting? I don’t think so.

I think patriotism is loving your country, but being willing to express your opinions and feelings, even when they are in opposition with the majority, I think being part of a democracy means expressing your opinions by voting – and using your vote to shape the destiny of your nation. I think that as a citizen in a democracy, it is your DUTY to vote, to cast your vote for the candidate you support or for the legislation you believe in. I think that if you don’t cast your vote, you surrender any right to criticize the government or administration, no matter how much you disagree. And I think it is cowardice to express your views loudly in your home – and then hide them by NOT voting.

By that reasoning, I know I shouldn’t be questioning the Bush administration’s decisions because I didn’t vote in the 2000 election – but when it comes to war, something will affect us all, American or not, I think I can comment. I heard the British ambassador on NPR the other day and I think he expressed what I’m feeling the best – that no one disagrees that Saddam Hussein is a bad man. No one disagrees that a regime change would be a good thing. No one disagrees that he could be a threat. But no one has demonstrated the immediacy – the presence – of that threat. Until that is done, I can’t support a war against Iraq. And if that makes me unpatriotic, well, then I don’t think you have a good understanding of what patriotism is.

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