Dear Missoulian editorial board:

Many people regret getting tattoos at a young age. I don’t. My tattoo was scripted on to my skin when I was a 19-year-old Marine stationed in Southeast Asia. It declares: “America, love it or leave it.” It’s a blunt statement, representing a simple declaration felt by most veterans and Montanans, with the exception of the Missoulian editorial board.

The content of a recent email sent by me may not have been as simple as the statement on my left shoulder, but the premise is the same: If America isn’t good enough for you, it’s a free country and you are free to leave.

Make no mistake, socialists have infiltrated our country. They were born or immigrated here, have benefited from the freedoms America provides, but now wish to alter America’s capitalist, free-market-based economy to an everyone-gets-the-same-no-matter-how-hard-you-work socialist economy. This is an incredibly dangerous framework that seeks to fix the ails of society by means of forced financial parity, suggesting a wealth tax of up to 70% to penalize folks for overachieving.

"Race to the bottom" ideas do nothing to promote the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that founded this country and propelled America to becoming the greatest nation in the world. These legislators are like teenagers who believe everything in their parents’ home is theirs, giving no consideration to their parents’ toils required to create the home. We do nothing to solve income inequality in America by removing incentives to achieve, yet this is precisely the premise of the policy proposals advanced by these legislators.

Before calling out Republicans for their perceived ails, the editorial board should consider its own hypocrisy. While the board finds my words and those of U.S. Sen. Steve Daines’ inflammatory, it fails to condemn U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s words with a similar full editorial, uttered on the heels of the same statement made by President Trump. Rather, the Missoulian gives Tester a three-sentence slap on the wrist that most of its readers likely never saw.

In a moment of clarity, even Democrat leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi denounced the anti-American and anti-semitic statements made by Rep. Ilhan Omar that Daines and I also condemned. Montanans expect equal opportunity criticism from news sources, yet when Tester suggested the president should be “punch[ed] in the face,” the Missoulian was rather quiet about it.

Certainly, actual calls for violence by sitting senators deserve rebuke. The Missoulian’s near silence about Tester’s statements — and feigned outrage against Daines and myself — highlights the continued credibility problems of the Missoulian as a trusted news source.

I can promise the Missoulian, I am not a wordsmith. I don’t need words on my shoulder to reflect the patriotism embedded in my soul. While the ink fades, the sentiment endures. I am a Marine who unapologetically favors action over words. I swore my duty to actively defend America against all threats foreign and domestic, and I actively defend her today. I actively engage Montanans in state and national elections by duly informing them of real ideological threats to our democracy.

The Missoulian is welcomed to criticize me for my actions, but perhaps before casting stones toward Republicans, the Missoulian should fill its left hand with stones earned by Democrats.

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Don “K” Kaltschmidt is a businessman, a U.S. marine, and currently serves as the chairman of the Montana Republican Party.

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