Logo for Joe Sobranšs 
newsletter: Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 Another Country 

April 26, 2005 
A stay in the hospital, with the heightened awareness that your days are numbered, makes you feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle: you come back to the ordinary world with a different perspective. Today's column is "Another Country" 
-- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.Things that used to seem urgent to me now seem trivial, especially political quarrels. “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

In Washington the two parties have been fighting bitterly over the confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees. The Republicans may resort to “the nuclear option” to prevent Democratic filibustering and other obstructive tactics. The Democrats call Bush’s nominees “radical.”

I hardly know which side is more risible. Both parties blow their noses on the U.S. Constitution, so it hardly makes any difference which controls the judiciary. The Democrats are somewhat worse, which doesn’t mean the Republicans are good. To call the Republicans “radical” is to pay them a compliment they have done nothing to deserve.

The Democrats, whether they admit it or not, want judges who will declare homosexuality and same-sex marriage constitutional rights. But the Republicans favor unconstitutional Federal entitlements, expanded executive powers (Homeland Security, the USA PATRIOT Act, et cetera), and of course undeclared war. George W. Bush makes Bill Clinton look like Thomas Jefferson.

“The real American is all right,” said G.K. Chesterton. “It is the ideal American who is all wrong.” Today the “ideal” American wants to impose his false ideal of democracy on the rest of the world. But to most of the world American democracy, supported by American weaponry, appears an alarming thing.

What happened to the country we used to love and the world used to admire? For many years it was a country of implicit understandings about freedom and the good life. The government seemed to accept its limits and respect our desire to be left alone.

[Breaker quote for Another Country: America, then and now]But as new forms of tyranny exploded abroad, our own politicians got ideas too. The concentration of power, economic dirigisme, high taxes, a mania for equality, and world empire became accepted as enlightened principles. Gradually, America became a profoundly different country. We hardly noticed it happening.

Today we take topless spending and bottomless debt for granted. American military forces are now stationed in more than a hundred countries around the world. At home, meanwhile, smoking and obesity are “problems” for the government to solve.

The older America venerated its inventors, creative men like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford who enriched us all. We were grateful to medical men like Jonas Salk, who found cures for dreaded diseases. Today we honor politicians, especially those who, like Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, got us into the bloodiest wars and enlarged the power and scope of government.

That older America also loved gentle humor and melodic music. It hardly needs saying that our tastes have coarsened remarkably in these areas, along with our public morality. Much of the blame for this, I’m afraid, lies with the American Catholic Church, which, since the Second Vatican Council in the Sixties, has ceased to exert the gravitational force it did when I was a child, even as government has joined the mammoth entertainment industry in marginalizing all religion.

I spent only a few days in the hospital, but it might almost have been half a century. Maybe it was that I’d been largely insulated from the media; but when I left, I was, for whatever reason, acutely conscious of how startlingly the country had changed during my lifetime. The monstrous growth of the government had been accompanied by a paganization we couldn’t have imagined fifty years ago.

Would my father’s generation have fought for this country in World War II if they could have foreseen the America of 2005? Despite the current celebration of “the good war,” I seriously doubt it. They thought they were fighting for a way of life that has now vanished, destroyed by politics and cultural decay. Maybe it was already doomed, and the war only hastened its destruction.

Tens of millions died in “the good war,” probably including a Gershwin or an Edison, to say nothing of the misery of countless ordinary people. There is nothing about it to celebrate, unless you’re a politician who profits by the new order that arose in its ruins and survives today. Politicians love to commemorate wars, the men who died in them, and above all the politicians who started them.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2005 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address:

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Reprinted with permission
This page is copyright © 2005 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.