The liberalism of the Life of Julia doesnt 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 governments 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.
The condescension inherent in this vision is apparent in every step of Julias pilgrimage toward a community-gardening retirement. But in an increasingly atomized society, where communities and families are weaker than ever before, such a vision may have more appeal to both genders than many of the conservatives mocking the slide show might like to believe.
Apparently someone in the White House thinks so, which makes the life of Julia the most interesting general-election foray by either campaign to date. Interesting, and clarifying: in a race thats likely to be dominated by purely negative campaigning on both sides, her story is the clearest statement were likely to get of what Obama-era liberalism would take us forward toward.
Today’s liberalism seeks to ensure absolute autonomy from family and community, and in the process creates a massive dependence on the state that would be unhealthy even if it were sustainable. An agenda of thoroughgoing individualism collapses into nanny-statism.