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The Tea Partyers love America, but it's an America that is an abstraction or a memory. The nation of today--with its many immigrants, liberated women, increasingly liberated gays, myriad government programs, open trade and a Spanish-language option on every phone menu--seems to scare them.
For many conservatives, the rot set in a while ago. Ron Paul and his supporters argue, for instance, that the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 marked the beginning of the fall. Others see the New Deal as deeply illegitimate. For many, the culprit is the social changes ushered in during the 1960s. But these are shifts that have been with us now for 100 or 75 or 40 years. Those shifts broadened opportunities for women and minorities, gave income support to seniors and helped create stable economic growth that has been the envy of the world. At some point, the changes became part of the fabric of the country. Can you love America and hate so much about it?
The Republican Party has an important and powerful economic message for America today. But to sell it, it needs to convince voters that it understands and appreciates today's America.
TO READ MORE BY FAREED ZAKARIA, GO TO time.com/zakaria