Gridlock and political dysfunction. Partisanship at record levels. Attack politics run amok. And public approval of Congress scraping the single digits (Sen. John McCain is fond of saying it’s down to blood relatives and paid staff).

We’ve all heard the laments — we’ve made some of them ourselves — that Washington is broken, that our political system can’t grapple with the nation’s big, long-term problems. So what can be done about it? Unfortunately, the cures that get tossed around are often misguided, sometimes even worse than the disease. Here are five much-praised solutions we should avoid, followed by four that have a chance to make a meaningful difference.