It has been easy this year to present the American mid-term elections as exhibit one in the case that the country has gone crazy. We've had Congressman Alan Grayson, a Democrat, doctoring audio tape to make his opponent sound like he was issuing a fundamentalist edict that women submit to their husbands. Christine O'Donnell, the Tea Party candidate who once campaigned against masturbation, aired a television ad that began "I am not a witch". A liberal activist in Kentucky had her head stamped on by a volunteer for Rand Paul, another Tea Party candidate. A reporter was handcuffed by security goons working for Joe Miller, the Tea Party candidate in Alaska.
But widespread hilarity – inside the country, as well as beyond its shores – about a supposed Idiot America obscures the fact that at the heart of these elections have been big, serious philosophical questions about what government is and what it should do.