I believe voting in America has become an ineffective exercise in social gaming. I'll steal a couple of links from wikipedia:
1) Voter Fatigue
2) Rational Ignorance
In other words, our current representative democracy is manifesting the primary attributes that plague direct democracy. The representative system is no longer scaling. Gone are the days of town-hall meetings and impromptu debates. I think there is a real sense that state and federal politics are detached and ineffective at representation.
Now to the idea. I'm not claiming it is original. However, I have no known references... Essentially, representative democracy is fundamentally a tree structure. In its current state, it has only one level of indirection.
Each of us has to elect our representatives at every form of government. When the country was small, this was a perfectly reasonable responsibility. However, with millions of citizens we now are experiencing voter fatigue. We have too many candidates, and too many issues which we may not really care or know about.
Instead of this giant money machine, why not return to a fundamentally scalable approach?
Maintain a representative democracy, and the same basic state/federal structure we have today. However, instead of a two party ticket, start off small. Have a system wherein people are divided into small groups. Lets say a group of friends organizes into a small group of 10 people. These debate groups register with the state, and they exist with a single purpose:
Debate the issues relevant to the group and decide on a single person who is best able to represent viewpoints at the next level. This representative then moves to the next level where he takes part in a debate with 10 other representatives to elect someone to the next level of government. This repeats until offices have been filled at every form of government.
Say there are 250,000,000 eligible voters in the country. Assuming a balanced tree with each leaf containing 10 people, that would mean that log10(250,000,000) ~ 9 elections would have to be held to elect a single prime minister. Considering that we already have community->city->county->state->legislat
This approach has the advantage of allowing people to locally debate regional issues at every level, and I believe have their issues more directly represented in higher forms of government. It has its own potential problems, I know. But is it possibly a solution to our current system?