With the smug incomprehension in which it takes so much pride (can’t understand – won’t understand!), the BBC sets about the American Tea Party Movement as if it were a cross between the Klu Klux Klan and the German neo-fascist brigade. Not once in all the demonic depictions I have seen and heard (last week’s Newsnight package was particularly outrageous) have I heard a mention of what the TPM is actually about: taxation. (Note to BBC editors: the movement is named after the Boston Tea Party because it is protesting about the imposition of higher federal taxes and over-weening controls on citizens who believe their voices have been ignored.)
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.