Our social contract ,The Constitution, is clear in absolute restraint of the Federal Governments authority. There are specific powers enumerated to Congress and the Executive. Everything else is retained by the States and the Citizens of the States.
The 9th and 10th Amendments to the Constitution are the "Forgotten Men" if you will. They are completely absent in our political discourse. These two amendments are the Firewall against and an Activist Federal government. Since the middle of the 19th Century assaults on these two Bulwarks of Liberty have been steadily and progressively more expansive. The end result is "We the People" are never more than an electoral college vote away from tyranny.
Decentralized power* IS* the key. If Congress and the Executive had only their Constitutionally mandated powers to play with Obama would be a charismatic and relatively powerless President with odd opinions and very little authority toimpose them.
When scoping out the next generation of leaders I would humbly suggest searching out those who wish NOT so much to halt the expansion of the Federal Government but roll it back. Send tax dollars back to the States not in the form of block grants but through the elimination of Executive Branch Departments like the Dept. of Education, the Dept. of Transportation etc. With their dissolution their regulatory authority would also be returned to the states where the Citizens have more direct influence over their elected representatives.
It's just an idea albeit not mine. It was Madisons, Hamiltons, Jeffersons etc...when they wrote and ratified the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Presidential debates about energy policy though quite stimulating miss the point entirely. If people in western Pennsylvania want to fire their boilers with coal, Great! Let them be free to. Let Governor Rendell and the Pennsylvania legislature regulate them. It has no bearing on my life here in MA. If people in Alabama want to put up a plaque listing the 10 commandments on the edifice of EVERY courthouse in the State, excellent. It* is* their right to. It has no bearing on my life here in MA, although I would be more apt to consider living there if they did.
Let us find that person who will return America to her Constitution and let "We The People" get back to self Governance.