I confess to a devilish vexation whenever I encounter a tea-partying, Paulite crackpot like Iowa's Randi Shannon, who recently dropped her state senate bid in exchange for "accept[ing] the position of U.S. Senator in The Republic of The United States of America." Generally--and instantly--what troubles me most in these strange encounters is less the crackpot's chronic derangement than his or her acute symptoms of it.
To wit, in Ms. Shannon's case (a primer on this, here), she has quit political participation in the U.S. government because, she explains, the federal government was "replaced in 1871 by the UNITED STATES CORPORATION. (de facto-without law)," and "This Unlawful Corporate Democracy ... has been acting as though it is the 'official government' which clearly it is not!"
OK, so that's pretty nuts, indeed, extravagantly so. But when I read her expatriate letter of resignation, I was unable to wholly savor its utter unhingement because "clearly it is not!" came rather early in her four-page declaration. Hence I was almost immediately confronted with having to make a clinical call: Which is crazier?--Shannon's use of "clearly," or the exclamation point?
The latter suggests an inexpressible passion, which occasional progressives and entire herds of tea partiers insist is a vital element of good politics, although I find it tediously Romantic and dangerously Nietzschean. If one cannot express one's passion without the aid of emphatic symbols, then one's passion has, in all probability, traveled 'round the bend. The former--the adverbial former, "clearly"--is on the other hand a forbidding sign of deranged extremism, which, like all derangements, exists only in imagination. The very real extremism, however, could turn violent.
I do however detect a potential upside to Ms. Shannon's public breakdown. It may be that the tea partiers and Paulites are finally grasping that their revolution, though televised, over and over, was and shall remain in the longer term and within the larger electorate an irreversible flop. So they, one by one, are quitting--they are going home to their padded chat-rooms and reassuring Web sites that comfort with tales of their own political rectitude, which the masses just can't comprehend and won't ever appreciate.