"A republic, if you can keep it" Benjamin Franklin, when asked whether America would be a republic or a tyranny.
Our political debates reflect little interest in facts and nuanced discussion -- soundbites reign supreme. The fault's not with our politicians, however; it's with us. Politicians (e.g., Mitt Romney, President Obama, etc.) don't deal with reality because citizens prefer politics as entertainment and theater. If we're the generation that loses our republic, the epitaph should read: "American Republic, Killed by the Internet and Cable TV."
No prior generation of Americans has had such convenient/free access to high quality information. This should be democracy's Golden Age. Paradoxically, the ease with which citizens stay informed -- is destroying the foundations of our republic.
If this seems counter-intuitive, read on.