I try my best to ignore election-related news coverage in non-election years such as this one. It’s distracting and counterproductive. But it can be hard to tune out—especially when the list of apparently viable contenders for the Republican ticket include such, um, brilliant minds as Herman Cain and Michelle Bachman.

There are two phenomena at play that I have trouble understanding. First, who would rally behind a presidential candidate that lacks a top-notch knowledge of law, policymaking, foreign policy issues, and economics? (Isn’t this supposed to be the hardest job in the world?) Secondly, why does the Republican vetting system seem to revolve around publicly questioning the candidates on whether they are conservative enough? (Can there be no room for compromise in a functioning two-party system?)

Fortunately, someone has written a funny and interesting essay exploring both topics: “Why Republicans Embrace Simpletons and How it Hurts America.”