October 21st, 2013
08:41 AM ET

Zakaria: Can conservatives love 'real' America?

By Fareed Zakaria

For many conservatives today, the "rot" to be excoriated is not about economics and health care but about culture. A persistent theme of conservative intellectuals and commentators – in print and on Fox News – is the cultural decay of the country. But compared with almost any period in U.S. history, we live in bourgeois times, in a culture that values family, religion, work and, above all, private business. Young people today aspire to become Mark Zuckerberg. They quote the aphorisms of Warren Buffett. They read the Twitter feed of Bill Gates. Even after the worst recession since the Great Depression, there are no obvious radicals, anarchists, Black Panthers or other revolutionary movements – except for the Tea Party.

Now, for some tacticians and consultants, extreme rhetoric is just a way to keep the troops fired up. But rhetoric gives meaning and shape to a political movement. Over the past six decades, conservatives’ language of decay, despair and decline have created a group of Americans who fervently believe in this dark narrative and are determined to stop the country from plunging into what they see as imminent oblivion. They aren't going to give up just yet.

The era of crises could end, but only when this group of conservatives makes its peace with today's America. They are misty-eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory and yet they are passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, capitalist-and-welfare-state democracy that America actually has been for half a century – a fifth of this country's history. At some point, will they come to realize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?

Watch the video for the full Take or read more in the Washington Post.

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Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. John von Luck

    The psychological basis of hostage taking is this. The target is intensely concerned with the welfare of the victim. The hostage taker is not. So when the Tea Party takes the full faith and credit of the United States Credit in an attempt to intimidate the President, are they telling us they believe the president cares deeply about our welfare. Are they confessing their lack of love for their country?!
    If so, they should remember there is a reason the US does not negotiate with terrorists.

    October 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  2. bribarian

    lib marxists telling us what real America is classic....

    these are the illegal loving trash that put a Kenyan in charge

    October 23, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • Harman

      Thanks for validating his claim ...

      October 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Richard Ovalle

      without knowing much about Fareed and his writing/ views you simply label him a marxist yet fail to provide evidence or constructive feedback to the issue. It is AMericans like you , and your actions or in-actions, which are holding this great nation hostage. As we said n grade school, quit talking out of your @-s-s

      October 24, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  3. Abobakar Ibrahim

    The Clinton era was probably the best for most Americans who are over 40yrs now. A free spirited, mankind hearted, President under whom the economy was doing very well! What happened @'bribarian'? You sound very bitter about problems that were seemingly started by conservatives!

    October 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  4. Abobakar Ibrahim

    Thank you Fareed for a topic which i reckon is gonna bring the best and worst amongst commentators. Topics like this have the advantage of letting Folks vent, although it is never nice when the rude, bitter, fierce ones vent. lets hold our breath!

    October 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
  5. Red John

    There are no radicals, except on the right, because we have seen the extended failure of those radical principles applied (The Soviet Union), so there is no credibility there. For the things the Tea Party is describing, they did work then but they cannot today. I mean c'mon, you can't apply 19th century Laissez-Faire capitalism today because people in Murica want good wages.
    Also, this bourgeois culture that we have has been marketed brilliantly. We see the success of these insta-rich people and find hope that we can accomplish that. It has kept things stable. However it has bred a sense that success lies in money. So put two and two together and you have a generation that believes that money is what they need, it becomes number one on our list. That isn't good. They'll grow up with the mindset that if it benefits themselves, then it is worth the venture. They won't bother if they don't get a thing out of it. We are on the route back to that 19th Century mindset of personal gain. Thankfully college education informs students that there is more to life than money and private needs and wants, but there are many who won;t get that education because they don't see a need for college education. Men like Bill Gates did not. In fact the youth culture dangerously emphasizes the individual. So much importance is put on the self with little account for others that children, unless properly taught, will become realpolitikesque adults.

    Lastly, you mention that there are no obvious radicals except in the Tea Party. If history and science teaches anything it is this: life is all about action and reaction. The French radicals responded to counterrevolution, the communists responded to the abuses of capitalism; if the Tea Party persists and, God forbid, gains any power because of this bourgeois culture, there will be those who will react to their radicalism in kind.

    October 24, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
  6. Richard Ovalle

    I don't always agree with Mr. Zakaria but I love his insight and old articles from TIME. I think another issue that has to be looked at is the revolutionary changes happening in the world and this country. There is a huge cultural gap between older Americans and younger. The world is changing at a rapid pace, the USA has overextended itself and we are NOT the greatest country in the world anymore, if there is one. But we can be!!! Unfortunately we stopped trying when we stopped listening and did away with engaging in constructive dialogue. The "US" and "THEM" mentality in this country has to stop or we shall become victims of our own demise.

    October 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
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