My generation is suffering due to the failures and short-sightedness of those before us. How do we stop this from happening again? Reform, of course. Change what went wrong in the past so it doesn't happen again in the future. Makes sense. But how do we guarantee that we don't allow ourselves to fall into another situation just as catastrophic, or worse, in the future? No retroactive policy reform is going to do that.
Only education can give us the long-term stability we desperately need. Education = rational debate and elections = more effective governance = a stable, productive and powerful America. If we become smarter, so too will our leaders. Too many big decisions are put off by elected officials too scared to do anything good for the country in the long-term if it means displeasing voters in the short-term. This (and gerrymandering) has been the nature of the beast for basically all of American political history. This model, however instinctive and logical, needs to go.
America needs more politicians like the ones our forefathers envisioned: men both enlightened and practical, faithful and humanistic, steeped in both tradition and progress. True patriots who felt a duty to serve their country, unafraid to make hard decisions when necessary. Someone who puts the good of the country over their own political fortunes without hesitation is a representative in the noblest sense of the word. Where are these people?? Politics and government in America was never meant to be synonymous with corruption and ineffectuality in the public mind. People like Sarah Palin should not be as influential as they are and issues like race, abortion and gay marriage should not keep us from doing what needs to get done. I refuse to believe this is the America George Washington imagined. (In fact, Washington warned of the distracting and divisive nature of political bickering between parties in his farewell address.)
We can easily recruit men and women closer to this mold if we start basing our opinions on facts and not blind, distorted logic. This can be difficult; everything you read is manipulated in one form or another, from the source down (even this). But education doesn't mean a bachelor's degree, it means knowing how to sift through the bullshit in order to find truth in whatever it is you're reading, hearing or watching. Every American can educate themselves through balanced, thoughtful analysis of current events and by resisting the urge to hear one point of view and settle on it.
Basically, we need more Thomas Jeffersons and less Joe Wilsons. More Paines and less Becks. More enlightened pragmatists and less ignorant opportunists. Elections and politics in general should be fueled by factual and relevant dialogue, not stereotypes, hot button issues, unsubstantiated claims, flip-flops, one-liners and regurgitated rhetoric. Am I wrong? I mean, I know there have always been idiots in American politics, but don't you think our founding fathers would be just a little disappointed if they saw how divided our country remains over issues that are irrelevant to what really matters?