Glenn Reynolds has an excellent column in Forbes that sums up what I've been feeling for the last month:
...I'm sure I wasn't the only one who watched the candidates debate and thought, "Out of a nation of 300 million, this is the best we can do?" After all, the infant United States, with a tiny fraction of the population, produced Washington, Jefferson and Adams. Despite our having a (much) larger and better-educated populace today, it's hard to argue that we're performing up to that standard now.
Indeed (heh). Looking ahead at the pile of heavy issues the country will be forced to deal with in the next quarter-century, it seems there is no one in either party up to the challenge. Reynolds flirts with a couple of ways the quality of our leaders might be improved, one of which is term limits. But Reynolds worries that new blood won't necessarily amount to better blood.
Although he may be right, I would submit that any politician becomes infinitely more interested in the good of the country and likewise less interested in re-election, if, in fact, they don't have that option. To me, it is the buying of campaign support, primarily through pork, that is the single most destructive force in Congress. They all do it, and the rest turn a blind eye because they know they will have to do the same. Not only would eliminating re-election reduce pork spending greatly, project funding would be doled out on a level playing field, not based on Congressional seniority or who needs a vote boost.
As well, dirty campaigns likely keep the best and the brightest from ever pursuing public office. Removing the option of re-election drastically reduces the number of times someone would have to go through that. And, as the quality of the people who serve us improved, so too would campaigns for office.
I don't know how else we will ever achieve a government that actually works. What I do know is that, with the current crop, and the Congressional electoral system and who it attracts, there is an exactly zero chance the nation will see the leadership it so desperately needs from either party.
Watching where Congress is taking our future is just like watching toilet water pick up speed as it rushes inevitably to the bottom of the bowl. Except in this case it carries something very valuable; something I fear my grandchildren won't have experienced enough to bother missing.