As a parent of 2 teenage daughters, I hear the frustration they share with "rigged class elections, popularity vs. content, etc." within their own peer elections. I worry that our youth is missing the truth and honor of "personal integrity" and need to learn democratic integrity first from their parents and then from public role models such as teachers, community leaders and elected officials.
The democratic process should begin in the home with active parenting; not passive or dictactorship styles. Active parenting provides a forum to share and to hear ideas, solutions, praise, criticism, etc. as well as an understanding that one's ideas should always be heard, considered and respected, but not necessarily always taken. This foundation then naturally expands into school where teachers may mirror this type of democratic atmoshere. Additionally, I feel more demonstrative practice is needed within the school system in order for our youth to understand the democratic process on a personalized local level. Washington is far away; OUR community is right in front of us.
One solution may be to link community leaders with schools and to openly invite ideas, internship-for-a-day programs or other activities that marry "the process" with a reality that children understand. If the democratic process is understood and actively demonstrated locally then a national understanding is more easily comprehended.
Of course all ages need to be engaged with this process. If we educate and engage at a younger age, it is a natural concequence that the democratic process will continue well into young adulthood and beyond. The age of 18 gives our youth the right to vote and to be a legal adult; if their upbringing engaged the democratic process, then our Leaders-of-Tomorrow will continue and expand the democratic process.