The "democratic" process has been abandoned by the general public to professional politicians. What does that get us? 1) A congress full of our "representatives" whose one real goal seems to be keeping their seats, which is seemingly accomplished by pandering to PACs and corporations who can support reelection bids instead of listening to constiuents; 2) a sensationalistic campaign process that plays to extremist and polarizing sensitivities; and 3) a public that is jaded by a bipartisan, useless legislature, numbed by the onslought of media hype, and no longer hopeful that they have a say in their own futures.
So, how do you get the public involved in the democratic process? You make them PART of the democratic process. Right now, political strength is held by the actors best able to win a popularity contest (governors, presidents, congressmen). This was certainly not the goal of our founding fathers. Political positions were once held in addition to "real" jobs. Congressmen were farmers and merchants by trade, politicians because they had a calling to perform civic duty.
Perhaps, due to the growing complexity of government, many believe that such a "part-time politician" approach is not realistic in this day and age. I disagree. How else can you get single mothers, unemployed factory workers, corporate vice presidents, and retired military officers involved in the decision-making process that directly affects their lives?
I propose a revamping of our political system. The president gets one term and comes in as a lame duck. Then he can concentrate on doing what's right for his country, not just for his chances for reelection.
Senate members would continue to be elected, but also subject to stringent term limits that would ensure their commitment to their constituents, not to their own futures. Such an approach would undoubtedly minimize the need for silly bipartisan politicking, as well, as it would create a system in which party sponsoring would be less necessary.
House members would be appointed in a system much like the current jury system - regular citizens would be called to service through a random lottery. Imagine that! Actual Americans making decisions and running the government. Their service would be compensated, of course, and they would only be working part time; say, one or two weekends out of each month (like guard duty).
The mystery of politics - the thought that politics and law-making is simply too complicated for the average person to comprehend - is baloney. Politicians push that belief on us with a condescending pat on the head in order to convince us that we should leave policy making and international relations up to them. In fact, laws don't need to be nearly as complicated as they are. (Do we really need a multiple-volume tax code?) And the golden rule is much more effective in international relations than the short-term economic fixes that have created a mire of global instability.
Take the power away from professional politicians, and give it to those who are willing to serve the people who elect them. Inact term limits across the board, and provide a system in which the people can make the decisions.