The parliamentary system is a bit better about this, what with coalitions and such, but it also makes it a bit harder to get things done.
And all of our systems of representative government require elections. Election cycles are a way for politicians to manipulate the news cycle and public memory to ensure that they're well thought of during the election year, regardless of what they've done.
All this got me to thinking, and thinking lead to a thought experiment. Let's ignore everything, and start government over from scratch. We're designing a government, and we want it to be responsive to the needs of the public- all of the public. Everyone needs to be represented in some capacity, no matter how out there or unorthodox their views might be.
So envision this. Each citizen under the rule of this experimental government is given a chit. This token represents political authority, and can be deeded over to anyone else. The original holder of the chit remains the holder of the chit, but they can grant their authority to someone else. Anyone holding at least two chits is guaranteed a seat in government. Anyone with a seat in government is a "chithead".
Now, wait a second- if someone only needs two chits to get into the government, why doesn't everyone find a friend who agrees with them, and then all of the sudden, 50% of the populace is directly involved in the government.
Well, the next step is some kind of "leveling" system. Two chits gets you in the door, but your ability to steer the course of government is limited.
One approach could be to break it down by hierarchy- city, state, federal. Two chits gets you into the city government in some capacity, but you need a thousand chits to get to the state government. I don't really care for that approach, myself, but it's one path you could take.
Alternatively, we can enumerate the powers that chitheads can exercise. We need the ability to write bills, vote on them, debate them, veto them, alter rules of order, perform "judicial review" (this simple model doesn't mention a judiciary or a Constitution, but some sort of equivalent may exist), and so on.
Those powers are granted to an individual chithead based on the number of chits they hold. Two chits guarantees that you get a vote on bills, but nothing more. You can't even sit in on the debates (figuring that there's finite space). But let's also keep in mind that not all votes are created equal. If one person has 10,000 chits, their vote should count more than someone who's only holding two chits. The relationship shouldn't be linear, however, otherwise we're back to pure democracy with pointless trappings. Instead, to keep things balanced, we'd want to say that a chithead gets a number of votes proportional to the number of chits they hold, but not linear. Some quadratic with an asymptote, so that, after you hold a certain number of chits, you won't gain any more votes by getting more chits- but you may gain other powers.
Obviously, a leveling system like this would take some organizing and planning. Some "play-testing", to get the powers balanced properly across the 200 million or so chits that would be up for grabs at the Federal level. For now, let's say that there is a leveling system, and this leveling system does a few things: grants powers based on the number of chits held, controls the number of votes a chithead gets. One of the "high level" powers would be the ability to propose changes to the leveling system, but once again- everyone gets to vote on those changes. Something like that, which is nearly equivalent to a constitutional change, would need to pass with more than a simple majority of the votes in play.
The other thing the leveling system would need to do is make it desirable to be a "lower level" chithead. When you hit 20,000 chits, you gain certain powers, but at 40,000 chits, you lose them. Ideally, you'd want to get as close to a normal distribution as possible- most chitheads hold some average number of chits. This would be one tool for achieving that.
What about political parties? Something like this could potentially obviate them. Then again, politicians need to get as many chits as possible if they're going to really wield the high level powers to steer the government. So parties would still have a role. They could have an even bigger role if one wanted to let them. For example, they could act as "chitpackers". Instead of giving their chit directly to a chithead, a citizen could give it to a chitpacker instead. That chitpacker could then organize the chits they hold and move them between the chitheads they want to support. But there's a problem here, which I'll get to.
Term limits and incumbency. The fact that power corrupts isn't going to be changed by this approach. The longer someone holds power, the more corrupt they're going to get. So what can we do? First, a citizen can revoke their chit from a chithead at any time. Beyond that, we can take a couple of approaches.
One option is "reversion"- chits revert back to their holder after being deeded to a chithead for a period of time. The holder can't re-deed the chit to the same chithead for some period of time, or can't deed their chit at all for some period of time. Now, if we allow chitpackers to exist, they can game the system and beat reversion- they just have to manage their set of chits to move citizen's chits between candidates.
Another option is just term limits- you can only be a chithead for so long, then someone shows you the door. No matter how many chits you're holding. Or, using certain powers (like changing how the leveling system works) requires that you stop being a chithead. Once again, chitpackers can beat this- if they hold a pool of chits, when a chithead's term is up, they can take all of those chits and give them to someone else they want to support.
Now, I'm not advocating this system. But I think it's an interesting thought experiment. You may note that it bears resemblance to role-playing games. Ideas like "level balancing", character advancement. The reason for that is because game developers have put a huge amount of effort into making sure that, at all levels of play, their games are balanced and enjoyable for everyone. They have systems in place to keep the level 60 wizards from picking on the level 3 fighters. That sort of balancing goes a long way to making sure the game remains fair for everyone, without nerfing the progression so much that there's no motivation to advance.
I think that we, as a society, need to actively explore other styles of government and experiment with them locally. It's absurd to assume that our form of government is the best option we have available.