Rolling Stone published a profile of Barack Obama right at the start of his presidential campaign in February 2007. It's very revealing. Obama as a man "trying to pull a less-conventional trick: to turn his own person into a movement." His candidacy as "a kind of human Rorschach test ... People see in him what they want to see." His chief advisor, David Axelrod, saying: "we don't know exactly how Barack will respond. I'll be really frank with you: Barack doesn't know exactly how he'll respond."
I think that one way that Obama responded will, hopefully, change politics in Western democracies for the better.
He trusted the people joining his "movement" with responsibility.
Specifically, he used technology creatively to make them drive the process, neighbour-to-neighbour, house party by house party. Part of his election platform that has not received enough attention is how he'll continue that process of grassroots empowerment after a victory. Obama wants Cabinet officials, government executives and rulemaking agencies to hold meetings that are open to the public and transmitted with a live feed. He wants to use blogs and wikis to communicate policies with Americans and provide new subsidies for rural broadband access. He wants to provide raw governmental data to new mashup software tools to track influence and monitor corruption.
If you knock on 10 million doors, and then open up the machinery of government to people, you hopefully create a two-way dialogue, rather than a one-way mirror.