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The BBC Fails to Understand the Tea Party Movement -- Says the Telegraph UK

The Telegraph UK is featuring an editorial by Janet Daley on how the BCC completely fails to understand the Tea Party movement in the U.S. The piece is succinct enough I almost want to quote the whole thing. Instead I hope the following quote motivates you to, as Glenn Reynolds would say, go read the whole thing.

The British generally and the BBC in particular have a real problem understanding the obsessive suspicion in which the power of central government is held in the US. This is not some funny redneck eccentricity: it is fundamental to the Constitution which gives individual states much greater sovereignty than the countries of the European Union enjoy. The states have independent judicial systems (some states have capital punishment, others do not) and separate taxation systems (some have sales taxes, others do not). Only a Supreme Court ruling can over-turn state law by, for example, declaring something (such as abortion) to be a legal right which a state legislature may not deny.
The rest of Daley's piece is just as spot on. I'm often baffled in discussions with my more liberal friends. They either fail to see the pitfalls of having a centralized government with unlimited power or they are seemingly naive and are just hoping that this all-powerful government will always side on issues according to their individual beliefs and choices.

It doesn't work that way. You may be excited, for example, if the federal government was empowered to step in and declare gay marriage legal. Would you be as excited if the government decided that two years of military service for all citizens was a necessary requirement (and that "conscientious objector" isn't a valid out)? You may be overjoyed to hear that the federal government is going legalize marijuana across all states. Would you be equally happy to learn that it was going to make abortions illegal?

I've actually had discussions about systems of government where people suggest that "benevolent dictator" falls above "democracy" in desirability. I couldn't disagree more strongly. Benevolent dictators are like parents for a society--deciding on things because the society is too immature or otherwise incapable of deciding for themselves. I don't ever want to give up that right. Not to a single individual. Not to a centralized government.

Edit: A comment on a comment from reader Stan after the break.

We did have the government mandating two years of military service. It was called the draft.

Exactly my point, sorry if I wasn't clear enough in my examples. Sometimes the government has powers to do things you'd rather it didn't. It is wishful thinking that an expansive government will always think the way you want it to.

Another example. During the initial reaction to 9/11, there were many who called for then President Bush to have increased powers so he could "take care of business". Now we have President Obama. How many of those people would be happy if President Obama had those same greatly expanded powers to take care of business?

Similarly, there are people that bemoan the "party of no" stopping Obama from getting really good things accomplished. Say he was granted those powers and did as he may. The mood of the electorate swings. In a shock to many, Sarah Palin is swept into office in 2012. To those that would support expanding Obama's powers...how to do you feel about President Palin ruling without checks and balances?

Edit: Another good comment:

I agree fully with your view on this, despite its lack of originality. Plato figured that out well over 2000 years ago. His argument was that, while a dictatorship may be best under the best of circumstances (benevolence), it also turns out to be the very worst under the worst of circumstances (tyranny).
Well I am half-Greek, so this should come as no surprise. :)

But more seriously, I don't agree with that argument either. I find it illogical that a benevolent dictator, no matter how well intended, could ever satisfy the differing desires of their populous at the same time and do so fairly. For example, imagine under this dictatorship one citizen was very concerned with global warming and wanted there to be a law that required everyone to live in small, energy efficient apartment in large metropolises. I, on the other hand, have always dreamed of living in the countryside and having a big house with a number of acres. The concerned citizen doesn't think I should be able to do that. My house costs more to maintain and I have a longer commute into work. My carbon footprint is too high. I either need to be prevented from living like that or fined heavily for doing so.

What does our benevolent dictator do in this situation? He can't satisfy us both. Does he tell the citizen that his concerns are overreaching? What if every other citizen was as concerned as him over my wasteful lifestyle? Does he tell me to pack up and move to that cube in city 647B? What if most people dreamed of moving to that country estate, like I do? Does he go with what the majority think? If so, he's just a vote counter and we are back to a democracy.

Now, as with any thought experiment, you can pick holes in the above. I imagine the first argument would be to talk about that benefits of a representative democracy over a pure one. But I hope that my point is clear. I don't want a nanny deciding what is right and wrong for me. I don't want that nanny, regardless if it is a person, govenrment, or church.


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Comments (49)

What's new? The brits fail... (Below threshold)
TexBob:

What's new? The brits failed to grasp the concept of the last Tea Party protest in 1773.

They don't understand individual freedom and success without the boot of government on your neck, so I'm not surprised to see history repeated.

I had thought the BBC was a... (Below threshold)
Roy:

I had thought the BBC was all better now, after Dubya left office. Apparently, the drooling continues.

Reminds me of an argument m... (Below threshold)
dries:

Reminds me of an argument made by advocates of absolutism in XVIII century Germany. "Prince's power should not be limited, so his benevolence would not be limited either". Sure.

Anyone who would suggest th... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Anyone who would suggest that a "benevolent dictator" falls above "democracy" in desirability is a freaking idiot with no grasp of reality or history.

"that a "benevolent dictato... (Below threshold)
914:

"that a "benevolent dictator"

Barry?? He gives our jobs to china and cash to unions?

It all looks so good on pap... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

It all looks so good on paper and in discussions in the halls of the academy, but in practice there is no such thing as a perfect government. Moreover, a less perfect form of government in practice has no standing in criticzing a more perfect government in practice. I am very proud of our more perfect form of government.

This is unsurprising. Most... (Below threshold)
jim m:

This is unsurprising. Most of the Brits get their news from American media (which has no clue about the Tea Party) and the BBC is at least as sleazy and left wing as the media here if not more so.

Likewise the Brits do not have the same tradition of distrust of government that we have. The Magna Carta provides no rights to the individual suich as we have. Even their libel laws are different as truth is not a defense against the charge of libel.

Would you be as ex... (Below threshold)
Stan:
Would you be as excited if the government decided that two years of military service for all citizens was a necessary requirement

We did have the government mandating two years of military service. It was called the draft. It was started in 1939 and finally ended in 1972. In both cases it took and act of Congress to do this. This was the main push behind the anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s.

The Beeb is as clueless as ... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

The Beeb is as clueless as to what's going on as Harry Reid (who today stated he had nothing to do with the economic down-turn).

This was the main push b... (Below threshold)

This was the main push behind the anti-war demonstrations of the 1960s.

Nice to see this acknowledged after all this time.

Can your liberal friends na... (Below threshold)
Matt:

Can your liberal friends name a "benevolent dictator" in the entire history of the world? Or are they just dreaming about how great it would be if such a thing existed? Perhaps they fail to see the difference between the possible and the purely fanciful.

Ever notice that most draft... (Below threshold)

Ever notice that most draftees served Democretins' wars? I can't complain, I actually enlisted, believing that we should honor our treaty obligations under SEATO. Then abandonment of the Montagnards and later combination of Frank Church, Stansfield Turner, and Jimmah Carter all convinced me not to reenlist after eight years.
I still like Heinlein's idea o the franchise being contingent on completion of two years service an discharge.

The Brits, and Europeans gr... (Below threshold)
miscellaneous:

The Brits, and Europeans grew out of a monarchy. It's also why they developed into parlamentary governments and not democratic governments. They are a different culture.

"It was started in 1939 and... (Below threshold)
Don51:

"It was started in 1939 and finally ended in 1972."

Actually there was no draft after WWII and the first peace time 'draft' was instituted around the time of the Berlin Blockade a couple years later. And technically it isn't a 'draft' rather selective activation of the federal militia that has been with America since the 1792 Militia Act passed by Congress in accordance with their powers in Article I, Section 8. Continued today under Title X, USC, all males 17 to 45 are members of the militia, specifically the unorganized militia if they are not members of the organized militia.

"311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are--
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."

"The Brits, and Europeans g... (Below threshold)
914:

"The Brits, and Europeans grew out of a monarchy"

Yes,now they have become politically correct pansy dhimmi's who dare not print cartoons without fear of cars and buildings afire.. If the blueblood dems here have thier way we will be there in 6 years.

Benevolent dictatorships ma... (Below threshold)
wuzzagrunt:

Benevolent dictatorships may actually have some advantages. Unfortunately, there's no way to institutionalize the benevolence, and you just end up with the dictatorship.

I suspect this is what so-called liberal elites really desire. A society "...where the intellectual can at last get his hands on the whip." as Orwell understood. Many people want to be taken care of, a smaller number want to start settling scores.

A flat income tax. A univer... (Below threshold)
PTL:

A flat income tax. A universal draft with no
exemptions. Everybody pays. Everyone participates. Especially those who don't. A real participatory democracy.

Our Founders, realized ther... (Below threshold)
Deke:

Our Founders, realized there was no perfect government but understood less government was a good thing, after flirting with the Articles of Confederation, they also realized no government wasn't that great either.

They borrowed heavily from the example of the early Roman Republic in creating a government that was dependent upon landowners whose interests lay with maintaining a consistent form that encouraged the individual while maintaining loyalty to the state.

The Brits have never had that, they went from absolute monarchy to control by rich industrialists. They have no history of grassroots up politics as they have always been a top down system.

This is not some funny r... (Below threshold)
John Farrier:

This is not some funny redneck eccentricity: it is fundamental to the Constitution which gives individual states much greater sovereignty than the countries of the European Union enjoy.

One minor quibble with the lady in the Telegraph. The powers of the states are not contingent on the Constitution, but the reverse. The states pre-exist the Constitution, and would remain sovereign entities of the Constitutional government was dissolved.

Otherwise, this is an excellent editorial.

What I never get Dan, is ho... (Below threshold)
warchild:

What I never get Dan, is how come most of the tea party wasn't worried about government abuses of power when it was revealed that President Bush was spying on americans' phone calls?

I mean, If you are worried about government power getting out of hand shouldn't spying on your personal conversations rate a tad higher than say a new health care program?

To make a point about democ... (Below threshold)
Zero:

To make a point about democracy vs. benevolent dictator - neither is preferable. Democracy is mob rule, the tyranny of the masses. If 50% +1 of people decide the other 50% - 1 are to be slaves, so be it. The benevolent dictator is just a tyranny of one or few.

What we are supposed to have, and what we are losing to democracy, is a constitutional representative republic. Restore the Constitution, the representation, and the Republic, and we're on our way back to what we fought to be.

Not so long ago a poll was ... (Below threshold)
jgreene:

Not so long ago a poll was taken in the UK and a large percentage of those polled had NO IDEA who Winston Churchill was.

Take a look at British Society today. They've lost their freedom of speech and don't even realize it. Why should they have a "clue" about what the Tea Party movement is or what regular Americans think? They won't get that insight from the BBC or the Lame Stream Media in the USA if they follow the blogs of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC et al liberatis bullshitus.

One minor quibble ... (Below threshold)
iwogisdead:
One minor quibble with the lady in the Telegraph. The powers of the states are not contingent on the Constitution, but the reverse. The states pre-exist the Constitution, and would remain sovereign entities of the Constitutional government was dissolved.

Excellent point.

We seem to have forgotten many items the Founders wanted us to remember--like Presidential Electors and Senators chosen by the state legislatures. There was a reason for this--protection of individual freedom.

Frankly, I am all in favor ... (Below threshold)
DCP:

Frankly, I am all in favor of a benevolent dictatorship.

Just as long as I get to be the dictator.

Well, of course, I'll be benevolent.

DCP

Actually, the Benevolent Di... (Below threshold)
ErikZ:

Actually, the Benevolent Dictator works pretty well. Until he dies. Then for some reason all the Dictators after that are terrible.

The BBC is a propaganda arm... (Below threshold)
The Maksed Marvel:

The BBC is a propaganda arm of the White House these days, and have done many hit pieces on the Tea Party movement. The BBC's misrepresentation and slander (one BBC reporter even called them "teabaggers" on air and on the website) is being documented regularly at the Biased-BBC blog. The BBC also misrepresents or censors information about most of the important issues in the US, such as illegal immigration and health care. You name it, and the BBC gets it wrong.

It really is just a situati... (Below threshold)
Joe:

It really is just a situation of totally different systems of government. Many people I spoke with in the UK were surprised to find that states had their own systems of law and law enforcement officers. They were even more surprised to hear that cities and counties have their own too. Their national police force is divided into semi-automomous districts but is one entity.

The idea that different states could have totally different laws was completely foreign.

"I've actually had discu... (Below threshold)
WJ Alden:

"I've actually had discussions about systems of government where people suggest that "benevolent dictator" falls above "democracy" in desirability."

This is because the Left today is defined, not by its belief in the inherent goodness of man, or in its desire to improve the lot of the poor and working class, but by arrogance, snobbishness, condescension, and a violent distrust of "lesser" people - the very people it once claimed to defend. It's ideology is simply an aesthetic reaction to such humans - the kind who attend church, bear and raise children, join the military, work with their hands, watch "American" football, drive pickup trucks, shop at WalMart, eat at McDonald's, whatever. These are the people who think they're morally superior because they eat arugula instead of red leaf, because they have hardwood floors rather than wall-to-wall carpeting, because they prefer to watch boring, nihilistic, art house flicks rather than bid budget shootemups.

They see the people as capable - likely, even - to abuse power but think that a handful of justices with law degrees and black robes can seldom go wrong.

Once the Left comes to power this arrogance and disdain becomes impossible to hide. Since the New Left took over the D Party from the Tip O'Neill/Scoop Jackson days the D's have had combined control of Congress and the White House exactly twice, and each time - 1992-1994 and 2008-2010 - they retained control for exactly one election cycle.

"20. Posted by warchild | S... (Below threshold)
914:

"20. Posted by warchild | September 7, 2010 7:15 PM | Score: -7 (7 votes cast)"

You left barney on in your room warchild.

This post reminded me of th... (Below threshold)
Tman Author Profile Page:

This post reminded me of this line from the PJ O'Rourke classic "How to Explain Conservatism to Your Squishy Liberal Friends"-

"Think of all the considerations that go into each decision you make: Is it ethical? Is it good in the long run? Who benefits? Who is harmed? What will it cost? Does it go with the couch? Now imagine a large group-imagine a very large group, say, 250 milli on people-trying to agree on every decision made by every person in the country. The result would be stupid, silly and hugely wasteful-in short, the result would be government.

Individuals are not only smarter than groups, they are also-and this is one of the best things about them-weaker than groups. To return to Harvard for a moment, it's the difference between picking a fight with the football team and picking a fight with Mi chael Kinsley.

Collectivism makes for a very large and, hence, very powerful group. This power is centralized in the government. Any power is open to abuse.

Government power is not necessarily abused more often than personal power, but when the abuse does come, it's a lulu. At work, power over the whole supply cabinet is concentrated in the person of the office manager. In government, power over the entire mi litary is concentrated in the person of the commander-in-chief. You steal felt tip pens. Hitler invades Poland."

They either fail t... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:
They either fail to see the pitfalls of having a centralized government with unlimited power or they are seemingly naive and are just hoping that this all-powerful government will always side on issues according to their individual beliefs and choices.

I've helped retarded liberals to see this point with but two words: "President Palin."

The looks on their faces is priceless.

"They either fail to see... (Below threshold)
jim m:

"They either fail to see the pitfalls of having a centralized government with unlimited power or they are seemingly naive and are just hoping that this all-powerful government will always side on issues according to their individual beliefs and choices."

Libs always fail to consider that their idealized solutions never work in the real world (for that matter any idealized solution fails because the world is a messy non-ideal place). Nor do they realize that while they may believe that a dictatorship run by themselves would be some Utopia, they run the risk of that dictatorship being run by someone with ideas that vary from their own.

Libs are so short sighted that they actually believe that any dictator coming from the left would naturally have the same elightened ideas that they have. They somehow look at the Soviet Union and its purges and the mass murders and the millions sent to the gullag and never connect that the peolpe who were airbrushed out of all the photos were once celebrated members of the inner circle. Like foolish adolescents the left always thinks that they are the invincible ones.

So what happens when the left gets its dictatorship and then it turns out badly? I hope I'm not around for it. I suspect that Barry would love to be that dictator for life.

What they do need to understand is that counter revolution is a bitch. They're going to get a taste of it in November.

The British used to send us... (Below threshold)
PTL:

The British used to send us their best and brightest. No more. What's funny is that the
they don't have any left either.The BBC is run by leftist, anti-Semitic idiots.

Actually, warchild, ... (Below threshold)
MikeC:

Actually, warchild, many of us were every bit as concerned with provisions of the PATRIOT act as we now are with Obamacare. I was one of them, and, then as now, I directed my criticisms to my representative and senators. I left the Republican party in 2005 over their fiscal irresponsibility and lack of respect for states' rights.

You either have principles, or you don't; you either believe in limited government, or you don't. This is what the Tea Parties are all about.

You can't do the LORD's work by using the sword of Caesar; more and more people are coming around to this realization.

What I never get Dan, is... (Below threshold)
James Cloninger:

What I never get Dan, is how come most of the tea party wasn't worried about government abuses of power when it was revealed that President Bush was spying on americans' phone calls?

I mean, If you are worried about government power getting out of hand shouldn't spying on your personal conversations rate a tad higher than say a new health care program?

Considering that the NSA (which is what I'm guessing you are inferring) was actively monitoring calls where one party was outside US borders, I'm not particularly worried about it. In fact, the NSA has been doing this sort of thing off and on since 1975 (see Project SHAMROCK). Congress (which has been in Democratic control since 2006) has yet to do much with FISA to address this issue. Frankly, most Americans are smart enough that if they are not chatting with al' Faisal about training in Qatar on a cell phone, they don't have much to worry that their call to Dial-A-Porn has been logged (and not likely recorded) amongst the 100 billion records that the NSA may have. I doubt they have the manpower to sort through even 1% of the domestic only calls (even if they were allowed to record them) anyway. So, your spanking off to Furry Porn is still your secret for now.

It's going to get ugly her... (Below threshold)

It's going to get ugly here. Real ugly and soon. Too many of those "intellectuals" are releasing the thugs, the SEIU, the ACORN types, all those. Those fat black kids in what they think are uniforms, doing what they think is drilling, the New Black Panthers.

The mistake they are making, though is that it is our children who grew up and joined the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force. Those are the people who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and meant it, unlike those clowns in Washington, DC who won't even uphold the law.

Ugly. Real ugly. So much voter fraud and DC doesn't care. Well, millions of Americans do care. Gonna get ugly, folks.

I'd say Hong Kong under Bri... (Below threshold)

I'd say Hong Kong under British rule, especially Patten, came close to being a "benevolent dictatorship". And it did work out pretty well... Until the British sold them to the Red Chinese. Benevolent dictatorships just don't last.

So what happens when the... (Below threshold)

So what happens when the left gets its dictatorship and then it turns out badly?

They deny it was really their dictatorship, and then beg for another shot.

Personal note to "warchild:... (Below threshold)

Personal note to "warchild:"

In six months of commenting at Wizbang, you've used the names "jmc," "rightsaidfred," "right said fred," "rightiswrong," warisgreat," "WIG," "wingnut," and now "warchild."

Pick one and stick with it.

J.

"What I never get Dan, i... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"What I never get Dan, is how come most of the tea party wasn't worried about government abuses of power when it was revealed that President Bush was spying on americans' phone calls?"

jmc,

1) there was no Tea Party then
2) many of the individuals that the Tea Party is comprised of now (or at least those who support them) DID indeed express their discomfort at "eavesdropping".
3) anyone who can't pick a name, stick with it and live with the consequences of the reputation they build with that name is a cowardly and deceitful little shit.

"I've actually had discussi... (Below threshold)
Wayne:

"I've actually had discussions about systems of government where people suggest that "benevolent dictator" falls above "democracy" in desirability. I couldn't disagree more strongly."

I agree fully with your view on this, despite its lack of originality. Plato figured that out well over 2000 years ago. His argument was that, while a dictatorship may be best under the best of circumstances (benevolence), it also turns out to be the very worst under the worst of circumstances (tyranny). Oligarchy, which the left is heading us towards (Pelosi and Reid will not give up their pieces of power to a singular executive), was viewed as in between dictatorship and democracy - never as good/bad as dictatorship, but better/worse than democracy. Since power tends to corrupt, democracy, in the corrupted state, is clearly the better choice.

Look at what a benevolent d... (Below threshold)
Stan:

Look at what a benevolent dictator got Rome. A thousand years of chaos and high taxation. Rome also started out as a Republic, but Julius Caesar thought that he could do a better job of ruling Rome than the people. Kind of like what Obama is trying to do now. Only Obama does not have the charisma nor the military experience that Caesar did to make it stick. Yes Caesar was a narcissist and a fool, but he had the backing of the people to start with. In the end, Rome fell to the so-called barbarians, due to the lack of brain power in the government.

An interesting take on this... (Below threshold)

An interesting take on this from the religious aspect deals with the 40 years the Israelites spent in the desert under the direct rulership of G*D. The talmud actually says it was because they were like children and were less capable that they needed direct and overt miracles. As they matured, they were placed to live in a society ruled by "natural law" and the overt direction of G*D was removed.

Consider the analogy of the difference between an infant, a toddeler, a pre-schooler, an adolescent, and an adult. Also consider the articles about how the overparenting of children is actually harmful to them.

BTW the only truly b... (Below threshold)

BTW the only truly benevolent dictator is G*d because by definition He is omniscient and all powerful. Any Human being will be flawed and make misteaks [sic]. I think that was the point of the spectrum. The definition of G*d as benevolent and wanting the best for us, as well as the creation of free-will implies that G*d has "decided" not to rule as a "benevolent dictator" but leave the universe to us (to fix or mess up as we decide). Thus, you can actually make a religious argument againd dictatorship.

.... Only a supreme court r... (Below threshold)

.... Only a supreme court ruling can over-turn State Law by declaring something to be a legal right which a state legislature may not deny ....

And even then -- and as the increasingly tyrannical court will soon see more often -- only if the Sovereign State so permits.

For if the state - in the face of un-Constitutional rulings-by-fiat - practices court nullification, whats a court to do?

Declare war?

Re: argument against a stro... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Re: argument against a stronger central gov't.



For power to be seized, it must first be centralized.

I guess we got to cut them ... (Below threshold)
Ron:

I guess we got to cut them some slack I suppose....after all most of them have been been under the rule of tyrants for God knows how long....hundred thousand years? In the arena of freedom it is the rest of the world who are the babes in the woods. They don't know.

We are citizens of a Union ... (Below threshold)
Squid:

We are citizens of a Union of sovereign states. They are subjects of the Queen.

It's a simple distinction, but it has profound effects on each group's psyche. Our representatives are accountable to us (at least in theory). Parliament may think they're running the show nowadays, it's still Her Majesty's Government that controls the lives of all Her Majesty's subjects.

It's a fundamental difference between our two peoples that is too often overlooked.

My friends are liberal, but... (Below threshold)
Kyle:

My friends are liberal, but I am more center-right(ish) I would have voted for mccain but i couldn't stand sarah palin. I had to get this out somewhere **wipes the sweat from my brow**

Anyways I stumbled into this discussion when i searched bbc and tea party.

I would support the tea-party but some of their runners ex. Christine O'Donnell, beleives evolution is a myth " have you ever seen a monkey evolve into a person?" ...Seriously. I agree with the party of tea of financial issues but social ones, I just can't do it. Keep up the talk. Cheers.




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