President Obama’s newest campaign tool has been providing laughs all week in conservative circles. This is hardly surprising, as The Life of Julia meme, in addition to being short-sighted and factually inaccurate, almost seems to have been made for ridicule. There’s something in it for everyone to laugh at, and although not everyone can agree on just what it is that’s wrong with the poor Julia’s life, everyone agrees that something is wrong.
A little perusal of the web results in a smorgasbord of takes concerning the debacle of Julia from conservative bloggers and columnists. The most prominent of these seem to be:
A number of these conservative responses are spot-on and insightful and even many liberals have weighed in against the Obama campaign on this one, but I’d like to spend a few moments considering a possibility for the Julia saga that I’m not seeing discussed as much as I’d like to, and that I think may be the most likely possibility of all:
What if Julia gets some awesome benefits for the price of her liberty?
Let’s suppose for a moment that the highly improbable is, in fact, true: that the champions of fiscal sanity and personal responsibility are wrong and that President Obama is not only altruistic but also correct in his figuring and that Julia gets awesome benefits. Let us suppose that Julia gets government money to be enrolled in a Head Start program and that the program actually works and improves her three-year-old learning skills immensely, vaulting her into the world of grade school education with a bang. Let us suppose that Julia’s high school gets government money via Obama’s new Race to the Top program which also shocks everyone by actually working. Let us suppose that this money really does improve her SAT scores and that Julia also qualifies for President Obama’s American Opportunity tax credit and a Pell Grant, breezing through college, except for a short interlude during which she undergoes surgery that is covered by Obama’s healthcare plan.
And so on.
In short, let us suppose that everything goes right for Julia as she waltzes through life under the protective shadow of her government’s wings. Even so – even in this very unlikely paradise of Obama’s to which we have committed Julia – I would not want what Julia has, for Julia has got all of this at the expense of the most precious civil right she possesses: her right to be right when the government is wrong.
Because it’s all well and good to be dependent on an altruistic governmental system you adore. If you are of one mind with your nation’s ruling powers, there is, theoretically, little reason to object to the concept of a shared money-bag and no fear of a future state of involuntary servitude to scare you away from the benefits of having all things in common.
The question is, what about when the system that claims a desire to nurture and nourish you is one with which you fundamentally disagree? Is it truly wise or even sane to support the burgeoning and swelling of such a system by feeding into its open jaws more and more responsibility for your life?
The question is, how is Julia going to break away from her protector and her supplier when he demands of her things she cannot in good conscience do? And the answer is that we don’t have to look far to find ample examples of the bondage that results from a people’s exaggerated dependence upon their government.
How is Julia going to respond when her healthcare provider insists that her web design company pay for her employees’ abortions or allocates her funds for the purpose of research utilizing aborted fetal cells? Who is likely to get the upper hand: Julia’s health or Julia’s conscience? What is she going to do when her privacy is violated by airport and train station security officials at every checkpoint? Who is likely to get the upper hand: Julia’s need to travel (to visit her aging parents, and to keep her job) or her privacy? What will she do when her children are subjected against her will through the public education system to ideological indoctrination concerning family, homosexuality, sex ed, political science, religion, history and everything in between? What will she do if she wishes to liberate her children from an education system she finds ineffective and abhorrent and to homeschool them but isn’t permitted to by her government? Who is likely to get the upper hand: Julia’s relatively comfortable lifestyle or Julia’s conscience and her children?
I know not what course others may take, but it seems to me that handouts and awesome benefits pale in comparison with the freedom to think and to abide according to my convictions and to do business and raise children in the way that I see fit and to keep myself from becoming tethered to the manipulative and unstable monster that is government.
Upon further consideration, what Julia gets isn’t that great after all.