The Moment of Truth — May 5, 2012

Julia and Julia and Julia

Welcome to the Moment of Truth, the marble in your marble cake. 

Have you clicked through “The Life of Julia?” “The Life of Julia” is a little slideshow the Obama campaign put together to demonstrate how much better an Obama-presided-over life will be for an average graphically-designed, probably white female than it would be if that madman Mitt Romney ever got hold of the controls of state. Julia goes to Head Start so she can be smart in kindergarten. She gets thirteen years of public education, while under the yoke of a Romney regime public education would be destroyed to make rich people laugh. Later on, Julia’s web design business startup qualifies for a loan from the Small Business Administration, a part of the executive branch I’ve never heard of but which would be cut 20% by Adolf Mittler. 

The anti-Obama response to this cartoon, including the response of Jonah Goldberg, the world’s most simpleminded Jew, is of course to call “The Life of Julia” a socialist nightmare. And if that weren’t clever enough, someone on the right was alerted to the fact that Winston Smith’s girlfriend in Orwell’s 1984 is named Julia. The entire wingnut community has been patting itself on the back ever since over one of them having a smart friend.

I can understand how someone enthusiastic about the Republican party could also view funding for public education as akin to having a maskful of rats strapped to his face. Or rather, I have come to accept that there is a form of insanity in which such enthusiasm and such an equation cohabit. We are truly miraculous creatures. It is possible for the human brain to sustain brutal damage without inhibiting the ability to blog.

I don’t want to call such brain-damaged people “fascists.” I don’t want to call them “wingnuts” or “teabaggers” or “libertarians” or even “conservatives.” Such terms are not inclusive enough. Whether registered as such or not, they should be called Republicans, because in whatever direction their hopes and dreams might seek to diverge from whatever they think is lackluster about the GOP, they ARE the GOP. They are its body and soul, whether they like it or not. 

Unfortunately, I have a mirror image of the same problem they have: in whatever direction my hopes and dreams might seek to diverge from whatever I think is lackluster about the Democratic party, I AM the Democratic party. When someone calls Obama’s lackluster health care reform “socialist,” I feel that wound, and not just in the fabric of rationality. It hurts me when anything associated with Democrats gets attacked because I need them to be the non-Republican placeholders in US politics until we find something better.  

To me, the two political parties break down thus: the GOP, representing the party of self-inflicted brain damage and unrestrained greed, versus the Democrats, pretending to represent reasonable citizens but really just taking us along on a meandering ride, a ride in their mediocre car, a car they’ve especially chosen for its mediocrity since it might as well be a lousy car because the road it’s going down is falling further and further into disrepair, pretty soon it will be a gravel road, pretty soon after that it will be a sticky, biohazardous swamp in the wilderness. 

With a little luck, though, we’ll be able to walk around in the wilderness at the end of the Democrats’ road and forage for food. The end of the Republican road is not quite as appealing: a lake of boiling human blood. 

But the GOP is going to lose this round of the propaganda war. If the Republicans had an even smarter friend she would have told them about another Julia much more suited to their mocking of Obama’s socialist propaganda: Julia Baker. She was the character played by Diane Carrol in a TV show called “Julia.” The sitcom aired from 1968-1971. Julia was black, a single mother, and a nurse. 

“Julia” - the sitcom - was criticized from the left because Julia had a decent job and lived in a suburb, a situation considered fantastical as it didn’t reflect the gritty reality of black people living in a particular gritty reality. It was hard to argue with that objection. But others contended the show was a nice way for white TV viewers to get to know an African-American character who wouldn’t either scare them or dance around obligingly for their amusement. 

More importantly, though, as a minority woman with a job in the field of medicine, Julia was a symbol of the way the prosperity of White America in the 1950s was expected, according to liberal predictions, to spread. As the contentious 1960s gave way to the promised enlightenment of the 1970s, Post-War prosperity would flow to those who had previously been shut out of it by the backward societal customs and civic policies of the past. Racial hatred and ignorant bigotry would fall by the wayside. That undercurrent of utopian surrealism was what made “Julia” such a hilarious comedy. 

Little did we know at the time that Julia Baker was destined to suffer through the economic downturn of the 1970s and the Carter malaise. You see why I call this a missed opportunity for the GOP. The Carter presidency is certainly an era the Republicans want voters to associate with Obama. 

Except Republicans don’t have friends with esoteric knowledge of late-60s sitcoms, because college-educated Republicans are cultural-reference snobs. They hate pop culture and only allude to it grudgingly even though they know, or maybe because they know, that their base partakes of pop culture’s trashiest offerings with gusto. The GOP elites despise their voting base. Also, gay Republicans don’t collect vintage toys, they collect William F. Buckley spy novels. It’s sad.

And it’s a shame, because they’re missing a great opportunity to critique the liberal miscalculations of the pre-Carter era and make a disparaging comparison with Obama’s current promises of a stunningly adequate future. 

Then again, in a certain sense the future which Diane Carrol’s Julia was meant to herald has come to pass. Nowadays being a single mother with a job as a nurse is not at all out of the realm of possibility for a black woman. We certainly don’t think of it as some kind of fabulous fairytale anymore. Really, by today’s standards of status assessment, any social position short of eternally sexy superstar is considered not just commonplace but pathetic. We used to think being President was a glamorous job, too, but now that we have a black President we’ve realized a President is just another drudge who tackles a portion of that endless ocean of chores people with enough money don’t have to dip their toes into. 

Maybe Republicans hate Obama so much because he’s smudged the glamorous White House with his menial’s hands. Sure, there have been other presidents from humble backgrounds, but in their cases the aura of the White House raised them to its lofty level. Obama has brought the whiteness of the house down to his level with his unforgivable blackness. 

We may have just stumbled upon why Republicans revile multiculturalism. Understanding the humanity of minorities makes us think differently about being human ourselves. In their misguided struggle for equality, minorities have ruined everything by reminding us that we’re just like them. And that’s also what Julia, the graphic everyman character in the Obama campaign’s slideshow, reveals. She has all the worries about doing well in life and paying for school and medical care, all those human concerns that none of us would have to give a second thought to if we would just give up our non-Christian beliefs and our non-white dignity and let the Republicans finish the job of crushing civilization into a paste so billionaires can eat it on toast points. 

If there is one thing the GOP’s crazy-quilt of extremism has done, besides make gay Republicans boring, it’s insure Obama a victory in November. I don’t know if we’ll then inherit the stunningly adequate future promised in “The Life of Julia.” I do believe that after the election the compass needle will point a little bit further toward the biohazardous swamp, pulling us slightly off course from the lake of boiling human blood. Realistically, that might be the best we can hope for. 

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!