Monday, May 7, 2012


Iowahawk has a funny caricature of the Obama campaign's Julia ad here.

Nothing could make more pellucid the sort of future liberals envision than does this ad. Julia seems to have no real family support, no friends, no husband, no church. She's a ward of the state, almost completely dependent upon others to see her through life's challenges. The government is her ersatz family. It's a dependency the left fervently desires to achieve universally.

Russ Douthat of the New York Times puts it like this:
All propaganda invites snark and parody, and the story of Julia is ripe for it. She’s an everywoman only by the standards of the liberal upper middle class: She works as a Web designer, has her first child in her early 30s (the average first-time American mother is in her mid-20s), and spends her golden years as a “volunteer at a community garden.” (It will not surprise you to learn that the cartoon Julia looks Caucasian.)

What’s more, she seems to have no meaningful relationships apart from her bond with the Obama White House: no friends or siblings or extended family, no husband (“Julia decides to have a child,” is all the slide show says), a son who disappears once school starts and parents who only matter because Obamacare grants her the privilege of staying on their health care plan until she’s 26. This lends the whole production a curiously patriarchal quality, with Obama as a beneficent Daddy Warbucks and Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan co-starring as the wicked uncles threatening to steal Julia’s inheritance.

But if the slide show is easy to mock (and conservatives quickly obliged, tweeting Julia jokes across the Internet), there’s also a fascinating ideological purity to its attitudes and arguments. Indeed, both in its policy vision and its philosophical premises, the slide show represents a monument to certain trends in contemporary liberalism.

On the one hand, its public policy agenda is essentially a defense of existing arrangements no matter their effectiveness or sustainability, apparently premised on the assumption that American women can’t make cost-benefit calculations or indeed do basic math. In addition to ignoring the taxes that will be required of its businesswoman heroine across her working life, “The Life of Julia” hails a program (Head Start) that may not work at all, touts education spending that hasn’t done much for high school test scores or cut college costs, and never mentions that on the Obama administration’s own budget trajectory, neither Medicare nor Social Security will be able to make good on its promises once today’s 20-something Julias retire.

At the same time, the slide show’s vision of the individual’s relationship to the state seems designed to vindicate every conservative critique of the Obama-era Democratic Party. The liberalism of “the Life of Julia” doesn’t envision government spending the way an older liberalism did — as a backstop for otherwise self-sufficient working families, providing insurance against job loss, decrepitude and catastrophic illness.

It offers a more sweeping vision of government’s place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision — personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual — can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington.
Someone should do a clip that urges us to stay in school, get good grades, don't have children until you're married, stay married once you have them, shun drugs, alcohol and pornography, join a church, show up for work every day on time, and strive to be the best employee your employer has. If everyone followed these eight simple rules we'd have a lot fewer people in poverty and we'd hardly need government social welfare programs at all.