The Government Husband

| May 6 2012
Christopher Cook

Paul Ryan is right that Julia portrait is “creepy” and “demeaning”

As we noted on Friday, the Obama campaign has been tripping over itself a fair amount recently, and the “Life of Julia” may end up being like Obama’s Attack Watch website—an easily parodied misstep that reinforces stereotypes about Obama and his mode of governance.

The Life of Julia—a sort of online, Bayeux Tapestry-style chronological depiction of how Obama’s policies help (and Romney’s hurt) a woman through her life cycle—looks to be falling into just this category. It is very easily parodied, and it reinforces many of the stereotypes about Obama and the left . . . and the way they look at women. Julia is highly dependent on the government, and though she eventually has a child, she does not appear to have any men in her life. The only period in her life cycle that the depiction ignores is the section from middle-age to retirement, presumably during which she’s finally stopped supping at the government trough and is successful in the private sector. It only makes sense that this section would be ignored, since this is the section during which government is taking more than half of her income to pay for other putatively helpless single women.

Rep. Paul Ryan calls it for what it is:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Friday that the Obama campaign’s new website — which uses a fictionalized woman named Julia to illustrate how the president’s policies help female voters — is “creepy” and “demeaning.”

“It suggests that this woman can’t go anywhere in life without Barack Obama’s government-centered society. It’s kind of demeaning to her,” Ryan said during a constituent meeting in Wisconsin, the National Review reports. “She must have him and his big government to depend on to go anywhere in life. It doesn’t say much about his faith in Julia.”

[ . . . ]

“It really shows the philosophical premise they operate from, which is — I think Romney coined it well — it’s a ‘government-centered society.’ You have to have government at every stage of your life to be there for you; otherwise, you’re going to fail. It’s promoting a cradle-to-grave welfare society,” said Ryan.

That’s exactly right. “Julia” is straight out of the statist vision that is the sine qua non of the left: People can’t do for themselves without government. Individuals, families, communities, and private institutions are incapable of providing for their own needs. Only central government can play that role.

It is literally the opposite of the Founders vision for America when they set up our system of governance. It is everything they opposed and even loathed. We got our Bill of Rights because of fear (among the Anti-Federalists especially) that exactly this sort of thing would happen. And now it has.

Ironically, what we conservatives see as creepy and demeaning, the left sees as ideal. Single women are an overwhelmingly left-leaning voting bloc. They tend to remain so until they get married, whereupon their outlooks usually change. As long as the government can continue playing a role as a proxy husband—providing funds and security and even childcare when a man is not in the picture—the left will continue to enjoy the votes of single women. It is in the left’s interest to keep women dependent.

Now, a note to feminists and other lefties who are no doubt bristling at the previous paragraph. YES, the description of the government as a proxy husband is entirely apropos. NO, saying that real husbands provide help and security and care for children does NOT demean women or treat them as helpless. For those of you who don’t know the wonderful joy of marriage, let me spell it out for you. Husbands and wives help each other. Husbands and wives need each other. It’s not the big man protecting the weak and fawny woman. Life presents challenges, and husbands and wives face them together.

Yesterday, while my wife and I were out working on the flower beds in our back yard, I was able to look into my neighbor’s yards to either side and see the same thing. Husbands and wives working together—trimming hedges, weeding, preparing food gardens, etc. You lefties who seem to think that marriage shackles women and government aid somehow liberates them are misinformed, and frankly, kind of pathetic. Marriage makes us happy. We work in teams. We meet life’s challenges together. We need and want each other. Our teamwork helps set us FREE.

All you offer is dependence on government. You do not liberate women—you put them in chains.

You may think that government aid is just for when people need it. Unfortunately, human nature makes it very likely that people won’t just use it when we desperately need it; rather, we tend to become dependent on it. It weakens us. It weakens the bonds between us, and it strengthens a perverse bond between us and a paternalistic government. You speak of it as a source of liberation, but it is not. It is a source of diminution and destruction. As Representative Ryan says, it truly is creepy and demeaning.

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  1. [...] The online bayeux tapestry-style slideshow of the “Life of Julia” story put out by the Obama campaign is causing strong reactions among conservatives, largely because it is, as Paul Ryan described it, “creepy” and “demeaning.” I myself have had several storng ractons to it, including yesterday’s quasi-rant, The Government Husband. [...]