‘Julia’ and the denial of history

First it was David Brooks’ Harold and Erica. Now it’s the Obama campaign’s Julia. Harold, Erica and Julia are all fictitious characters born into a perpetual present. They live and grow old in a world that doesn’t change. As Michael Shear at the New York Times writes:

At age 3, Julia is enrolled in Head Start programs, thanks to Mr. Obama. By 22, she’s covered by her parents’ health care because of Mr. Obama’s health reforms. At 42, she’s getting a small-business loan from the government. When she reaches 67, she’s retired and drawing Social Security benefits.

In Julia’s world, demographic, technological and environmental change are on pause. She doesn’t need to worry about waiting for the new Intel chip to come out before she buys a new laptop. The new chip never comes. And in the same way, the government doesn’t need to worry about the effect of unforeseen new medical technologies on the cost of health care. The policies that work today will work equally well tomorrow.

There’s no ageing population problem. There’s no demographic bulge threatening Social Security or Medicare. The labour market goes on as it does now with undisrupted by technological or trade induced change. And while climate change is a constant source of anxiety, it remains lodged in a future that never comes.

Are Americans in denial about history? And if they are, how would that warp their decision making?

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8 Responses to ‘Julia’ and the denial of history

  1. Liam says:

    As ahistorical as it is it makes a change from the shabby crudities of generationalism. If Julia inhabits an eternal present she at least doesn’t pretend that “the Boomers” are a different species-class of humanoids to other generations.

  2. Don Arthur says:

    Yes, pitting generations against each other isn’t helpful. But when I start thinking about the Life of Julia it’s like watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or reading a Philip K Dick story. It’s kind of mind warping.

  3. Patrick says:

    She could even go to a voucher school in DC and save the government that head start money. Oh no, wait, Obama scrapped them in his first month. She could get a non-bank loan but wait, he made them much harder to do. I could go on!

    That said the people who vote for politicians at any given time do live in the present and maybe it’s better to think of little/growing/big/old Julia as a composite person.

    Or maybe liberals (and David Brooks is not so different) (ok and maybe most people) are just incapable of understanding that the future is another place and one we don’t know? It’s certainly easier to imagine that nothing changes, even if UT does make for terrible policy.

  4. Tel says:

    Once upon a time people had this idea that they would live their life and it would be their life. Now they seem to want to live out a template life delivered to them by big government, big business and big media, because you know we all have to be the same now that we have freedom and that.

  5. Yobbo says:

    It’s not so unrealistic. Under a socialist government like Obama’s, technological advancement always comes to a screeching halt.

  6. darryl rosin says:

    History? That sounds like Marxism to me!


  7. JB Cairns says:

    The old yobbo is sounding like poor old Rafe.

    He is mixing up Presidents.

    Under George Bush the Government bought up public companies. Obama is selling that ownership down.

    Under George Bush employment in the public secotr rose rapidly. If Obama had only copied him unemployment would be less than 7%. If he copied Reagan it would be even less.

  8. Katz says:

    Proof of the fact that Americans are in denial about historical change is that according to Hollywood since the landing at Plymouth Rock Americans have had access to volumising hair dryers.

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