The current system for getting an individual into the halls of power in the government no longer functions in the citizens' best interest (and by citizens I mean nation). The problem is money. Blogs have made a fair amount of headway in fundraising and that may, in time, reduce the problem, but even that won't eliminate it. The problem is that only the most involved (at least on a mental level) contribute even a small amount. More and more people are doing that, but they are still a minority of the population. Moreover the most involved often have an issue or leaning that may not be representative of the whole of the nation. So I think we should take a cue from the spelling bee. The solution to money in politics is a political bee.
In the political bee every man and woman (of age) who wishes can fill out a few simple forms, pay a processing fee (say $100) and enter any race they choose. Individual communities would hold thier local political bee, which would involve a short speach from each candidate and a town hall style debate. The whole event would be televised on the local tv stations and available for viewing online, and voting would happen the next week. Candidates could campaign, but there would be spending limits (at this level, say $1000--more upon moving to the next rounds up to around $25 million for a national campaign & state races topping at $10 million) and any candidate found in violation would be disqualified, even after the vote, up until the next vote--at least one month later. Subsequently, voluntary reporting of violations would result in a fine of $1 for every $1 over the limit, and non-disclosed violations discovered would result in in jail time of one day for every $10 over the limit and a permanent national ban on running for office. No excuses, there are too many people in this country to tolerate any corruption. We can find someone else. The one month grace and voluntary disclosure rules are sufficient to find mistakes and the penalties enough to ensure candidates pay attention (note: exceptions for deliberate campaign sabotage, and those that do so face 2x penalties). Each level after that would have a similar setup with only one candidate advancing.
Tournament style politics where winning is most closely associated with having a solid platform and being able to convey that platform, because, let's face it, charisma is of huge importance in politics. It could also result in more local interest. Now anyone really could run. Any American citizen really could be president.
Another possibility would be an "American Idol" style with an initial vetting process, but that would subjugate us to the political leanings of a handfull of judges, and we know how well the 2000 debacle in FL turned out for us.