The Left’s symbiotic attachment to the culture of dependency was made clear in two different ways, on two sides of the Atlantic, earlier this month.
First, the Obama campaign rolled out their web-based storybook ad, “The Life of Julia”, a slideshow depicting the life of a fictional female cartoon character, showing how government programs, nurtured by the Obama administration, supported her at every stage of her life. And, of course, foreshadowing the terrible consequences to her access to the government trough should the cruel Romney/Ryan regime kick in.
For conservatives, this computer-designed illustration of a cradle-to-grave welfare state was considered political manna from heaven; Julia jokes abounded, over-dubs of the ad replacing the chimerical with reality popped up in several venues (such as this one from Kelly Maher), and it was generally derided as an incredibly ill-conceived project.
And yet, it ran. And the assumption must be made that a sadly growing segment of the American population identifies with the tragic, pathetic figure featured in the ad.
Now let’s consider the elections held in Europe, most notably in France and Greece, a few days later. Voters in France elected Socialist Francois Hollande as President, while a far-left coalition in Greece made significant gains against the sitting government, in what is seen as an anti-austerity backlash.
A backlash against what? Well, against the notion that the people in these countries cannot continue to live off the hard work and prudence of others. In these nations, as in most of Europe, cradle-to-grave addiction to government is the norm, and woe betide any official who steps forward to point out that that may be causing a bit of an existential problem.
The electoral results from these nations, populated as they are with several million real-life Julia’s, is no surprise to the American left. Liberalism has long realized that the surest route to success is to create a semi-permanent underclass that relies on government largesse, and that will submissively vote to continue that relationship.
That notion has always met resistance in the United States, where individual initiative, economic freedom, and decentralized government produced conjointly the freest society and greatest economic gains in human history. But that resistance is waning.
The creation of this underclass is a sadly easy task, and the Julia ad, perhaps inadvertently, illustrates this clearly. Miss Julia’s primary relationship in the slideshow is with government – little mention of parents, church, community (aside from her volunteering at a community garden in her retirement, which is funded by a social security system that is presumed to be magically still around in 60-odd years). Government, in Julia’s world, takes on the role of family, educator, doctor, provider… And why not? Every liberal measure of the past 60 years – social, economic, or symbolic — has been geared towards just that.
Julia is the American liberal’s ideal – a modern person, ostensibly free of the constraints of antiquated orders and institutions, but in reality little more than a ward of the state, umbilically tied to the government. And the more she becomes reliant on the state to replace those antiquated institutions, the harder it becomes to cut the cord. And the more likely she will be to continue voting for her providers.
In most of Europe (with the piquant exception of Eastern Europe, whose own disastrous and bloodier venture in state supremacy remains a not-too-distant memory) this is structural, and has been for a while, explaining the insistence of the Greeks and French to vote to hasten their own calamity. The immediate results of the European rejection of financial discipline, in favor of a plan to try and fight fire with napalm – a precipitous drop in the Euro, warnings to Greece that failure to live up to its end of the deal will result in expulsion from the EU, a near-run on Greek banks that is in its third day at the time of this writing – were both unsurprising and widely predicted; and yet the specter of losing any morsel of their erstwhile free lunches trumped any other consideration for a large number of European Julia’s, conditioned for generations towards such servility.
The question in the United States, highlighted by the Julia ad, is whether this nation has travelled far enough down this path to entrench the establishment of a society where government is the predominant driver and institution in daily life, or if a return to a society where the state is restricted to a defined role, and restrained from breeding a cult of dependence, remains possible.