Europeans are struck by the faults of a plan which plunges the nation into a whirlpool of excitement every four years, and commits the headship of the state to a party leader chosen for a short period. But there is another aspect in which the presidential election may be regarded and one whose importance is better appreciated in America than in Europe. The election is a solemn periodical appeal to the nation to review its condition, the way in which its business has been carried on, the conduct of the two great parties.
It stirs and rouses the nation as nothing else does, forces everyone not merely to think about public affairs but to decide how he judges the parties. It refreshes the sense of national duty; and at great crises it intensifies national patriotism.
In form it is nothing more than the choice of an administrator who cannot influence policy otherwise than by refusing assent to bills. In reality it is the deliverance of the mind of the people upon all such questions as they feel able to decide.