A candidate for the state senate in Iowa, Randi Shannon, has now dropped out of the race so that she can devote attention to her new post as a United States senator for ... the Republic for the united States of America. No, that is not a misprint, not even the lowercase u in united. The R.u.S.A., based in Alabama (see a website associated with the movement here), is an outgrowth of the radical libertarian “individual sovereigntist” movement increasingly popular among right-wing extremists, especially after the election of an African-American president in 2008. Their worldview holds, based on an extremely wonky and ill-informed reading of constitutional history, that in 1871 the United States became an illegitimate corporation and that after that point public political life—elections etc.—was under the auspices of this new entity—which by right should only administer the District of Columbia—but that the original, up-until-the-1860s United States of America, in which the constituent states were sovereign republics, is still legally valid, but dormant. R.u.S.A. followers are assembling their own legislative and executive institutions as a rival U.S. government. It is probably no accident that the end of slavery just happens to coincide with where these folks things started to go bad and that D.C., the only majority-African-American constituent jurisdiction of the U.S., is the focus of their enmity. Shannon—who is from Coralville, Iowa—has now positioned herself, after consulting with other R.u.S.A. activists in Georgia, as a U.S. senator for Iowa. (Read her spectacularly ungrammatical and mispunctuated July 4th letter of resignation here.) The Southern Poverty Law Center (S.P.L.C.), which investigates hate groups, has recently called attention to the R.u.S.A. movement, including members’ run-ins with the law—such as Monty Ervin (a.k.a. “Monty-Wayne, of the family of Ervin, sovereign Most Christian Prince”), a heavily armed survivalist now convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion; an R.u.S.A. “ambassador” in Arizona who was shot and killed after assaulting a police officer; the R.u.S.A.-linked murder of two police in Arkansas in 2010; and a former R.u.S.A. “congressman” who was found dead with his 9-year-old son in their incinerated West Virginia trailer home, an apparent murder-suicide. In this year’s Republican primaries, Shannon backed—gee, you’ll never guess—Ron Paul.
Alternative United States senator Randi Shannon, posing next to a lovely painting depicting George Washington and his horse praying that America will not one day get taken over by right-wing wackos.