I'll be the first to admit that much of our electoral system is fractured (personally, I think "broken" sounds too much like irreparable to my ears), and that it comes from three sources: 1) Endless, non-stop campaigning: the minute an election is won, it is the politician's best interest (in terms of job security) to begin planning his/her re-election. This constant posturing and the bottomless pit of "outrage" it generates bedevils both parties, and to the same degree, regardless of who holds the Congressional majority at any given time. Money features prominently in this point as well. 2) Politics, at least in the US, have become so deeply polarized that the "squishy middle" has become demonized, and "moderation" is a sign of weakness, not strength. The problem here is that the sausage-making ugliness of crafting legislation requires compromise, which has a very negative connotation in today's Washington currently. In today's agenda-driven environment, overtalking (shouting down and an inability to listen) which too-often passes as "debate", incremental measures and respect of the concept of "loyal opposition" are seen as "capitulation" if not outright "betrayal"; IMO this makes the kind of compromise required to address real problems in a pragmatic way has become impossible. 3) The process of candidate selection is fed through the Party System governed by (for lack of a better term) "elites", most of whom sit outside of both the local constituencies and the Capitol building though are still completely within the beltway and/or NYC. Sometimes they are partisan think-tanks, sometimes they are corporate/"special" interests, sometimes they are part of the highly influential media (themselves entirely polarized at one edge or the other). Candidates are vetted and groomed based on appearance, demographic appeal, the ease with which they can be manipulated and controlled by the "elite" kingmakers who make a political career possible: their ability to project polemical, cartoon-like paradigms of "ideology". Their actual opinions, personalities and authentic individualism count for much less than the holographic image of some paragon of the virtues and ideals of their sponsors that they are required to project. Conor Freidersdorf, perhaps the hardest-working man in the Blogosphere (he's everywhere, it seems), has been addressing this last issue (point #3 listed above) through his many and sundry outlets for months now. But he posted something today that really hits it home: For the record, CF is a moderate small-c conservative with strong Libertarian leanings; he also very bright, and is quite young (under 30). He has a wonderful skill at articulation of his POV without exaggeration and polemics; there's a thoughtfulness and reasoning behind his opinions that demand careful reflection and analysis. Even when I disagree with him on specifics (and I do, frequently), I appreciate the pragmatic and open curiosity that he brings to political commentary. I also appreciate the fact that he's truly independent and is as likely to criticize conservatives as often as progressives. I have some strong opinions about the concept of "career" politicians, but will wait to express them until I'm responding to the input made in this thread by the membership of LPSG.