Heavyarms: good post. I'll see if I can answer you similarly rationally.
As to the abortion debate, I agree wholeheartedly. That does come down to a question of freedom for whom. I would argue though, that it's not a model in miniature for what goes on in the larger country with other issues. Neither side really wants to get rid of it though, anything said to the contrary is just rhetoric. There have been documentaries about how people in the Bush white house made it a point not to push abortion legislation, while courting Focus on the Family for money so that they could have something to run on the following election.
As to how the abortion debate is not representative of other issues in being a freedom for whom question. I'm heterosexual and I'm married. If a gay person wants to call themselves married too, it has no effect on my marriage whatsoever. My marriage is no more nor less sacred in the eyes of God because of their being able to call their relationships a marriage in the eyes of the law or not, and our country does have a theoretical freedom of association and right to property. As a matter of fact, it makes it less likely a gay man would make a pass at me if he married another gay man, so I don't see how opposing gay marriage, like Senator Craig and others like him did/does really increases my freedoms in any way.
Or the debate on the torture bill of summer before last. Republicans and Democrats were deadlocked on whether to pass it for months. Four "moderate" republicans negotiated with the administration, and instead of a bill that only allowed for the torture of foriegn nationals as enemy combatants, the language was expanded so that U.S. citizens could also be tortured. Rather than a toning down or a meeting in the middle, it was made more extreme, to take the away the liberty of more people with no recourse to due process.
That's why I say that the Republicans on the whole attempt to put shackles on their constituents' spiritual lives.
So you will see I'm not being one sided, I will admit and condemn that the Democrats do the same thing in robbing people of their economic freedoms. For instance, I was raised in Florida from 1979 to 1991 when I graduated high school. When I first moved there, there were only Democrats. In time, it came to be a more even split. Statewide, there were $1,000 impact fees every or any time you wanted to build any building on your own property, no matter what it was you wanted to build. If you wanted a $10,000 mobile home, you paid the same fee as the person building the $1,000,000 home. This was a highly regressive tax instituted from the party that claimed to be the "working man's party" at the time. Currently, the county I live in is debating instituting similar impact fees here.
As to people seeing politics as a noble profession, that hasn't been the case since I've been alive in any place I've lived or visited. It would be good if it got rid of a lot of the rhetoric, but when people placed such total faith in our government were when some of the greatest mistakes of the cold war almost got us all killed. I don't look for it to happen soon, and quite honestly, I have severe reservations about whether that would be a positive development for the citizens on the whole.