The 2009 movie Julia and Julia artfully contrasted the lives of two Julias—the famous chef Julia Childs and contemporary blogger Julie Powell who tackles every recipe in Childs’ first cookbook. A true story, the movie inspires admiration for the groundbreaking chef and sympathy for the young woman who gains maturity and insight by the movie’s end.
Fast forward three years and we have another Julia and Julia on the popular culture scene. The fictitious character Julia, brought to life on President Obama’s campaign web site in a digital picture book, inspired a number op-eds, blogs, and tweets over the weekend. A campaign prop for big government, Julia owes her education, health, career, and retirement to the beneficence of the current administration. She is a kept woman, yet the campaign ad implies that such a lifestyle should be celebrated and protected. The site warns viewers that Julia’s taxpayer supported dreams could be tragically cut short if Governor Romney is elected in November.
The ad would be less insulting had the character been a James or a Julian and the ad pandered to feckless men. What undergirds the story of this Julia is the offensive notion that a woman needs a government program to succeed and cannot do so on her own.
Enter Julia number two: Julia was raised by loving parents who taught her the value of hard work and perseverance. She worked full time while studying and was the first in her family to graduate from college. Julia worked her way up from low paying entry level jobs to a good career. She eventually struck out on her own and started a small business. Self-employed, Julia has her own health care policy and IRA. Julia gratefully acknowledges the support and encouragement of family and friends. She gives back every chance she gets by volunteering in her community.
While this “Julia” is me, I could write hundreds of short biographies of strong, independent women who have earned degrees, raised children, opened businesses, won awards, performed in the arts, overcome personal tragedies, made marriages work, cared for dying loved ones, saved for retirement, and climbed the corporate ladder. These independent Julias rely on themselves and the voluntary help of others. They are not dependent on politicians or feel entitled to the involuntary assistance of taxpayers.
What these independent women need is not another government program, mandate, or entitlement, they need a government that will get out of their way. We can make our own dreams come true.
Unfortunately, the contrasting drama of the fictional Julia, dependent and entitled, and the millions of strong, independent real life Julias will continue as long as politicians buy votes with promises of bigger government and silly campaign gimmicks like The Life of Julia.