Politics has been described as the art of the possible. That may be the root of the problem. We've been electing politicians instead of statesmen. A statesmen is that elusive man or woman capable of leading a mass with resolve, morals and maybe even a bit of panache.
To me, today's politicians are the professionals at the art of the possible. They will say what needs to be said, do what needs to be done to reach that all mighty compromise. The thing they lack is that little thing called principles. Since they don't have anything they really believe in, the compromise becomes surprisingly easy.
Imagine for a moment that instead of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hancock, and the other 51 men who signed the Declaration of Independence and started the revolutionary war, we had Pelosi, Kennedy (Ted), Obama, Clinton, etc. for state representatives? Would we have had a Declaration of Independence, a war of independence? Or would we have had a group of politicians who would have repeatedly gone back and told their states to not rock the boat. "Hey they may have just passed a law that required all trade with the Americas to go through English ports first, but we got them to agree to leave estates larger than 1000 acres alone!" Would we be the country that we are now, or would we be something akin to a vassal state subjected to the worst of the colonial system that existed.
I'm sure that most of our politicians today started out as principled people looking to improve our country, but I think that inch by inch, compromise by compromise, they've become the occupiers of those chairs in the senate and congress that we have. Their concern stopped being about what was best for their state and more about what was best to keep their seat. They stopped being custodians of their peoples wishes and more about keeping "those people" from upsetting their life.
Big hint: Those People are the ones you're supposed to be representing.
When Jefferson took the office of the president, he took it with the belief that his principles would not be compromised. While he did make compromises in office, he never let go of his principles, to the extent that he lost many a good friend and angered a lot of people over them.
Would he or Adams be electable in today's political climate? Unfortunately, I don't think so. They had their beliefs and I don't think they included a nanny state that current America seems to enjoy. Their opponent would merely have to mouth whatever his handlers decided the masses wanted to hear and promised whatever gub'mint cheese was the current fad and we would be less as a nation for it.
Would the phrase "All men are create equal" even exist in our Declaration of Independence unless men of principle hadn't had the courage to stand up and be counted. Not only against an oppressive absentee government, but amongst themselves also.