"The media has to help us. The media loves this game where everyone is on the extreme. It makes for great television. It makes for great chatter. It makes for great talk shows all day long with commentators commenting on commentators about the latest little mini-flap up on Capitol Hill," Powell said on ABC's "This Week."
He pointed to the founding fathers, saying, unlike the Tea Party point of view, the United States was founded on compromise, and that's what it will take to get things done in Congress again.
"The tone is not good right now. And our political system here in Washington, particularly up on the Hill, Congress, has become very, very tense, in that the two sides, the Republicans and the Democrats, are focusing more and more on their extreme left and extreme right," he said. "And we have to come back toward the center in order to compromise.
"Compromise is how this country was founded. And unless two people in disagreement with each other don't find away to reach out to one another and make compromises, you don't get a consensus that allows you to move forward," Powell said. "But the Tea Party point of view of no compromise whatsoever is not a point of view that will eventually produce a presidential candidate who will win."
Powell appeared on "This Week" to discuss America's Promise Foundation, an organization he founded to get people involved in service -- and not just military service.
"We see a lot of ways in which people are stepping forward to mentor kids in school, to read to kids in school, to give more of their resources to people in need," he said. "And one of the things we've been doing with the America's Promise Alliance is we made one of the key features of our program service to others among young people. So, early as possible in the life of a youngster, you start putting in place that virtue and value of service to country, service to community, service to others. And it will make a difference as these kids grow up."