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 The Meaning of Brotherhood 

July 24, 2003

At a testimonial dinner for a famous family of movie producers, Frank Sinatra offered this tribute: “The Warner brothers showed Hollywood the true meaning of brotherhood. They were brothers — and they were hoods.”

This brings me to my own brother Greg. He got off to a rocky start in life, one that Charles Dickens would weep to describe: he had me for a big brother. No sooner had he come home from the hospital than I commenced years of ruthless teasing.

But he rebounded from this early tragedy, and I was finally unable to crush his spirit. Luckily for me, tormenting a kid brother isn’t officially recognized as child abuse, or I might be writing this from a prison cell. I have never understood why modern psychology has never grasped that most childhood traumas are inflicted by siblings. Parents still get all the blame. Was Freud an only child?

Be that as it may, Greg has forgiven all. He has inherited the artistic spirit and talent of our mother, and he is a painter whose work is worthy of Edward Hopper. He is too creative to hold grudges; his humor remains unimpaired. He was the sweetest, merriest little boy I ever knew, and now he is sweeter and funnier than ever.

When I told Greg that I would be a write-in candidate for the presidency in 2004, I asked him if I could count on his vote. Without alluding to the dead past, he assured me that he would certainly consider voting for me, but he couldn’t honestly promise anything until he heard what Al Sharpton had to offer the Republic.

For a moment I was stunned. Not only are we brothers, but we agree on nearly everything. One more or less assumes the support of one’s own family. This is especially important in a write-in campaign, where it is vital that one’s supporters know how to spell the candidate’s name. If all my relatives vote for me, I’m sure to carry at least five states, Michigan, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Arizona.

[Breaker quote: Will it decide the 2004 election?]But on reflection, I saw that Greg’s answer was that of a true Sobran. Neither race nor consanguinity would decide his vote. Unlike many political siblings, he had no thought of capitalizing personally on his brother’s presidency. He was thinking of his country, and he would vote strictly on the merits. If the Reverend Sharpton presents a vision of America more inspiring than my own, so be it. I can only hope that the Sharpton family is equally prepared to put country before kinship.

But how much do families really matter in a national election? It may seem that even a large family is too demographically insignificant to sway the outcome. And usually this is the case. But we have only recently had a vivid counterexample. In the last presidential election, the electoral vote was closely split between two candidates. It came down to a single state: Florida, which was also closely split.

It was an astonishingly close contest. But the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, just happened to be the brother of one of the candidates, George W. Bush. Guess who won?

Yes, Bush won. But his victory was tainted. And it would have been tainted even worse if he had had brothers on the U.S. Supreme Court, which finally decided the outcome.

Greg and I agree that such a result is to be avoided at all costs. If I win the presidency, we don’t want my victory to be under the shadow of a suspicion that I owed it to my relatives. I’ll have enough trouble just avoiding impeachment. (I intend to veto every bill that comes across my desk, except those repealing laws that are already on the books. I also mean to use executive orders to end Federal entitlement payments.)

So, dear reader, though I fervently want your vote, I don’t want it because you may happen to be related to me, whether by blood, by marriage, or even by adoption. I only want it if you are genuinely convinced, as an American patriot, that I have more to offer all Americans, and not just the Sobrans, than the Reverend Sharpton.

As you step into the voting booth, you might even ask yourself, “Which candidate would really be better for the Sobrans and Sharptons alike?” Then follow your conscience. Just like Greg.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2003 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
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