As the government shutdown trudges on, it is hard for me to imagine how our politicians allowed us to get to this point once again. I wonder how people can continue reelecting politicians that are too stubborn to compromise no matter what the cost. But, in all fairness, how could I expect anything else? The American public does not know any better — in a way, we created our current state of political affairs because we, as a generation, are too uninterested to change it.

I don’t think I’m adding anything new to the conversation when I say that the American public is largely uninterested in politics. Many view politics as a “rich man’s game” or something that they cannot understand. Though they most likely would not admit it, many people would rather watch “American Idol” than watch the president speak.

But it hasn’t always been this way. President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural address is known for its famous quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” With his unmistakable accent, President Kennedy called an entire generation of Americans to action. And he got his wish; the 1960s certainly were a decade of action. Sweeping cultural changes like the Civil Rights Movement, social welfare and the Vietnam War protests define our memories of the decade.

It is difficult to find a modern day equivalent to the draft dodgers of the 1960s. But it’s not like people are completely satisfied with the state of American affairs. On the contrary, people couldn’t be less satisfied. No Congress has ever been more unpopular than our 113th Congress. The American people are tired of Congress routinely bringing us to the brink of fiscal disaster. In addition, many disapprove of President Barack Obama’s policies. But we do our best to carry on with our lives and disregard the three-ring circus that calls itself the United States Congress.

We face challenges just as important as those that rallied so many Americans to action in the 1960s, yet we, as a nation, do nothing. So where’s the anger? Where are the protests? What is holding us back?

The answer boils down to one word: information. The American public as a whole is grossly uninformed about how our government works. This lack of information is hindering the operation of our democracy. Our Founding Fathers created a government that is dependent on an informed and politically active population to hold its representatives accountable for their mistakes, so how can a government of the people, by the people and for the people function without the interest of the people?

Judging by our current state of affairs, not very well. Luckily, we have the tools needed to change. Technological advancements have made it easier than ever before to obtain information. While the Internet and 24-hour news stations are not ideal sources for political news, they are excellent resources for those attempting to learn about today’s politics.

An informed public is the first step in returning passion to politics. Once we are passionate about politics and truly understand how the institutions of government work, we can hold politicians who do not act in our best interests accountable through the less popular midterm elections. We have the power to put an end to the brinkmanship politics we have been forced to endure as of late — it’s just that many of us don’t know it yet.