The endless presidential campaign has become something to bemoan (like 24-hour cable, childhood obesity, and coverage of Paris Hilton). Always original, Charles Krauthammer says the long campaign is good for our democracy:

“The second function of the endless campaign is to build party consensus and democratic legitimacy, both of which contribute substantially to the astonishing stability and longevity of the American system. The presidential primary season is essentially a prolonged intraparty dialogue. It re-creates the Madisonian idea of factions and interests competing against each other, applied not to the legislature or the executive but to the electoral process that produces both. The job of the parties is to create a kind of pre-legislative consensus through the competition and conversation of the various factions — ethnic, ideological, economic, geographic. The purpose of the endless presidential primary is to force the dialogue and, for all its haphazard meanderings and maddening trivialities, it does.”

Krauthammer also makes a case for the funny hats and other humiliations of the campaign trail.