Do you wonder why our political system, which was once so self-correcting and attentive to the needs of citizens, increasingly seems to be slow to respond? Do you ever wonder why the needs of citizens are largely unmet while both parties race to their corners in an effort to box in their own particular primary or caucus voters?

Why do reform efforts so often fail?

In part, it is because we have lost contact with our elected officials, and they with us. Increasingly, the only means they have to know us is through polling; that is because our legislative districts, counties, and cities have grown so large that we have lost touch with them, and they with us. This leads to a discord in the song that is America.

To a degree this has been exacerbated by sprawl-based expansion driven by classism, as we so often live in cul-de-sacs where all the houses are in a narrow price range, and the inhabitants are in a narrow educational and outlook range. This means that we no longer know people who are not like ourselves, and this can lead to conflict. My maternal Scotch-Irish ancestors inadvertently caused the American Civil War, and in reading Chapter 1 of Bridges Across Every Divide, you can understand how that happened and begin the process of understanding how we can once again take control of our country back from narrow interest groups and narrow thoughts.

Eugene K. “Gene” Krebs spent eight years in the Ohio House of Representatives, three years on a local school board, and four years as a county commissioner. With Phil DeVol he is coauthor of Bridges Across Every Divide.