If “Life of Julia,” President Obama’s 2012 online version of liberal paradise characterized by cradle-to-grave dependency on the government, were to be revived, the Republicans might be the ones to benefit:

Julia’s grandfather has been waiting for treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs for years and lives with pain. She liked the idea of Obamacare at first, but it turned out to be a nightmare to sign up and very expensive. She is now paying more than she used to for health care while her salary has been flat for several years. To keep up with expenses, she tries to take on extra work and rent out her spare room through Airbnb, but the city is threatening to shut that down. Her son, a recent college grad, is back living at home since he’s got a boatload of debt and rotten job prospects. Her younger child keeps getting A’s but doesn’t seem to be learning much; Julia worries whether she will be college-ready. The school choice program the state set up sounds great, but the Justice Department is suing to end it.
Meanwhile, her brother is getting discharged by the Army, part of the recent cutbacks. Having lived through 9/11, Julia is more nervous than she has been in a long time because terrorist groups seem stronger than ever and Iran may get the bomb. Ebola has freaked her out, and she has had to stop watching the news, which brings on panic attacks. With the Fed keeping interest rates so low, she is not getting the sort of return on her savings she counted on, and she’s worried Medicare is not going to be there for the long haul. The president sounds like a teenager — nothing is ever his fault.

That’s one scenario I can come up with, and it’s hardly far-fetched.

Tina Brown, doyenne of the limousine-liberal set, has it right when she opines about women: “I think they’re feeling unsafe. They feel unsafe, economically; they’re feeling unsafe with regard to ISIS; they’re feeling unsafe about Ebola. What they’re feeling unsafe about is the government response to different crises.” For good measure, she adds, ““I think they’re beginning to feel a bit that Obama’s like that guy in the corner office who’s too cool for school. [He] calls a meeting, says this has to change, doesn’t put anything in place to make sure it does change, then it goes wrong and he’s blaming everybody.”

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Brown, however, is only partially right when she says Republicans are not offering much. In some cases, that is true. The anti-government right-wingers sound hysterical or angry or both, which is hardly comforting. As Mona Charen writes: “Republicans should not fear women voters. They are not an army of Sandra Fluke shock troops. They are repelled by perceived extremism, and they are interested in whether a candidate can improve daily life.”

Hmm, that sounds a lot like reform conservatism — a thoughtful alternative to the liberal welfare state that is based on conservative values but applied to current problems. It addresses “uncertainty” — of both genders — and focuses on issues essential to the middle and working class. Contrary to claims of anti-government libertarians, helping people is not anathema to modern conservatism; it is at the root of it.

Henry Olsen writes:The reason conservatives embraced Reagan was that he expressed their most deeply held values. He did not speak about government power; he spoke about justice. He spoke about how government could help average people do things that they could not be expected to do for themselves — and how it should expect average people to do those things that they could. The American government would neither keep its hands off nor heavily place its hands on; it would offer everyone a hand up.”

His advice is sound and has the incidental benefit of appealing to security-conscious women:

Republicans and conservatives can succeed only if they come home to Reagan’s vision of America. That vision sees government as a danger but not an enemy, and looks for ways to make it useful rather than harmful to the advancement of a free society. It is a vision in line with the spiritual heritage of Lincoln’s Republican Party — one that gives average people a hand up, not a hand out. . . .
First and foremost, however, it requires a renewed emphasis on an old goal: helping the common man advance in life. This has long been the driving purpose of American politics and the stated aim of just about every successful political coalition in our history. But in many respects it has ceased to be the goal of the Republican Party, and it needs to become so again. . . . If conservatives can understand that they are the party of government by and for the people as opposed to the party that wants to repeal all government entirely — that they are the party of a hand up rather than the party of the handout or of hands-off government — then, and only then, can they continue to lead America further on what Ronald Reagan called mankind’s journey from the swamp to the stars.

Once women — and men — see competent and calm Republicans working to help solve their real problems and forcefully addressing threats from abroad, they will embrace them.

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