Recently, I ran across Matt Bors, political cartoonist and author, actively advocating for an overthrow of the current system and replacement with... he didn't really clarify what. The argument was that the last two presidents (and the congresses that went with them) show the system is unfixably broken; that we will never, under current mechanisms, get a government that actually can meet the needs of "the people".
He briefly had me agreeing with him. I grew depressed over the situation. Corporate meddling in an attempt to corrupt what SHOULD be looking out for the public interest into a feeding trough, combined with two strongly opposed social agendas, combined with genuine ignorance is enough to make me agree that the political system is too broken to function on any meaningful level.
The question is, as always, what to do about it. For years, my focus was on hoping that system could be reformed - call that option 1. He argued that meaningful reform of the political system is not really possible at this point.
I agree with him on that; representative government at this point is much more of a way for MONEY to get valid representation than it is for people to do so. I started to agree with him about tearing it down and starting over, probably in a fractured structure and with huge social and monetary costs, might be the best route. Call that option 2.
About a day later, I don't recall how, I saw the global grass-roots planning going on for non-government groups to educate people and make community-level changes to reduce carbon emissions on 10/10/10. It served as a strong reminder that, given most of the problems that I see with the current social structure, there is a third option - go out and work to fix the problem outside of the broken political structures that you were hoping would address them. The people putting together the 10/10/10 efforts had come to the same decision that government was unwilling or unable to represent their interests, so they would just go ahead and represent themselves through action.
The same week, I ran across this demonstration of the incremental nature of social change. It amused me that the final example given would be seen by social liberals as a sign of using the "stairs" approach to achieve positive change, while being seen as another of the hitler-like changes by social conservatives. Regardless of which way such things are viewed, it served as yet another reminder that human society is created by, and changed by, human actions - and that anyone willing to publicly act against the status quo is helping change the society, however slowly and incrementally.
The things that I see as problems in society can be addressed through private efforts in most cases, rather than government policies. There are a few such changes that are illegal (gay marriage rights for example) but a private group working to, say, fix environmental issues can make a lot of headway.
Volunteering for, funding, publicly advocating, or even starting businesses for changes is something I feel more motivated to do now. I'll try to use LJ and facebook for some of the "publicly advocating" part, in ways that leave it wholly at the level of "this is what I am doing about this issue, make of it what you will" instead of being overtly political about it. Above all else, these recent epiphanies have reminded me that I'm looking for effective actions in order to counteract the actions of other humans who obviously disagree with me, not really politics - so that's what my focus needs to shift back to.