Back in 1947, Martin Luther King Jr argued that the critical intellect requires moral development. It is clear this still holds true even today. "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." You can find his article here.
I point this out because today's political debate is far too often lacking in intensive thought, critical thinking, and moral quality. And it has been so for some time. It aslo pervades more than just the political debate. Incompetence and malfeasance seem to abound just as much and can only amplify these problems.
Anyhow, these all point back to education as a source of this deficiency. And, specifically, statistics have shown that the US has been declining in math & science educational achievements compared against other nations in the world. These two subjects are especially crucial for developing critical thinking skills. You can understand more about why I think that here (click through the links a bit). Developing a moral character is more tricky. However, one can argue that in the tradition of academia, truth exists objectively and we are not individually in possession of the truth -- but seek it. And one can improve their moral character by observing these traditions of academia. Maintaining objectivity is tough. But gaining the ability & insights to sort through issues can come from a more robust education in science and mathematics. Thus leading to improved ability to maintain objectivity. Maintaining objectivity, is important to one's internal locus of control because it enables a strong moral character.
These subjects can improve the discussion for the following reasons. For one, science & math education can lead to the ability to understand and build a logical argument. Secondly, these subjects provide a foundation and even different processes that can be utilized. For example, the scientific method has a framework that can be adopted for use in the one's daily discourse. And if one were to follow it individually, one may find the quality of thought and even conclusions drawn improving.
Finally, I have always thought of what we do as a nation, as being done in striving for excellence. And I have always figured that individually, we strive to ensure it is so. I think we can take education more seriously. And I also think we can do better at heeding the true goal of education -- "intelligence plus character." The spirit of achieving excellence demands this!