I suppose if one raised the question, a number of ideas could be put on the table. Changing the election laws I’m sure would be mentioned like shortening campaigns to maybe engage more citizens. Particularly doing something to control the amount of money involved in politics today would jump out as a solution. That of course runs up against moneyed interests that like it the way it is. Then there is the Supreme Court that raises the issue of free speech, which means realistically any solution along those lines would require passage of a constitutional amendment. We could talk term limits, an idea that comes up frequently but has never mustered serious support. But none of this realistically achieves the goal of getting elected officials to responsively take on really tough and politically challenging issues.
The answer for me is an acceleration in civic engagement, an aroused citizenry willing to speak out, to educate fellow citizens, to promote a cause, and, in so doing, make the environment for the elected official safer to engage. The private citizen has less to risk, except time for sure. But opponents can’t vote you out of office. They can certainly disagree with you, but the playing field will be a little more balanced. It’s not that the opposition can’t at some point spend money to attack your cause, but—if a real movement is formed—your strength will be in numbers.
In practical terms, what makes it work is the fact that a citizen group has the time and opportunity to work out the bugs—to take the new idea and allow it to mature and become something that can more likely stand the pressure of the public spotlight. And as you grow your support for your cause, it is important that you work to create a new environment where the elected official might be more comfortable. This means responsible communication and always being respectful of those in office. On many issues, the elected officials may have been there in spirit from the beginning but only now willing to publicly join with you. This will be possible because of the effort you and your colleagues make to create an atmosphere where supporting change is much more acceptable.