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 We the Sheep 

March 7, 2006 
Am I dreaming, or what? The Republicans are on the ropes, and everyone is surprised that the Democrats can’t seem to take Today's column is "We the Sheep" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.advantage of the situation.

But isn’t this in the nature of a two-party system when both parties have already failed to give satisfaction? When you’re tired of dysentery, does that mean you should prefer to go back to the nausea that preceded it?

Suppose the two big parties were the Prohibition Party and the Vegetarian Party, even though most people like both meat and drink. Are you with me so far? Okay, so the Prohibition Party rules for a while, but prohibiting the consumption of alcohol turns out to be a dubious idea in practice. The voters decide that prohibiting the consumption of meat couldn’t be any worse, so they put the Vegetarians in power.

Still with me? Now it’s illegal to eat meat, but the Vegetarians leave all the laws against alcohol in effect. This comes as an unhappy surprise to the people who thought that either party would at least offer relief from the other one.

Civics for Suckers, Lesson One: In a two-party system, you can get the evils of both parties at the same time. Maybe you voted Republican because you hated the way the Democrats always inch in the general direction of socialism. The joke’s on you! The Republicans start a war and simultaneously accelerate the drive toward socialism.

Have you learned anything? If you are a typical American, probably not. So you buy a ticket to Brokeback Mountain and try to forget. At least in the movie the world makes some sort of crazy sense for a couple of hours. It’s a world where you know right from wrong and the scenery is gorgeous. The men can choose between women like Anne Hathaway or any of thousands of sheep, so, given the alternatives, they choose each other. Did I mention the great soundtrack music?

[Breaker quote for 
We the Sheep: Defining democracy downward]Back in the real world, as it is affectionately nicknamed, the war in Iraq is steadily losing favor. Even Bill Buckley, the retired founder of a pro-war magazine, says it’s time to admit defeat. This causes the magazine’s current editors, who favor nuking Mecca, to write that Buckley’s opinion is “premature.” After all, the war is not yet three years old, and you have to give these cakewalks at least a decade to work.

Politics is actually a lot of fun, if you observe it with a sense of humor and don’t get your hopes up. After all, politicians are basically just like the rest of us, and they behave just the way you or I might behave if we had the power to jail or shoot our creditors. In a democracy, the creditors are called “citizens” and the really gullible ones are called “voters.” Look in the mirror and ask yourself — honestly, now — which category you fall into. Keep the number of your local suicide hotline at hand.

It’s bad enough being a “citizen,” so I decided some time ago not to compound my troubles by being a “voter” too. This enabled me to see the world with an exhilarating clarity. Suddenly all the politicians bidding for my vote became comical little butts, like the figures in a Bruegel painting. At least I didn’t feel I was their butt anymore. Their slave, maybe, but no longer their butt.

Not that politicians really laugh at us. Humor isn’t their long suit. Does the wolf laugh at the sheep? In the movie I just mentioned, the sheep are protected by guys who shoot at the wolf. These guys are called “shepherds,” though in the so-called real world they are called “assassins” or even “terrorists.” And the wolf can shoot back, which brings us to Lesson Two: Don’t even think about shooting that wolf.

So when the wolf pounces on your lamb, just ignore the pitiful bleating and remind yourself that this is a democracy, where every sheep can freely express its preference for which kind of wolf it wants to be eaten by. Many sheep, perhaps understandably, prefer a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which is after all the basic idea of democracy. So far it has worked pretty well. The wolves all agree on that, and they want to spread democracy everywhere.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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