I also made the point that the individual citizen has the most impact on local government, and that impact gets weaker the further up the government pyramid you go. Your Senator and Congressman may nod politely and make a few minutes' time for you if you come to Washington, but they'll pay a lot more attention if you have a few thousand angry neighbors with you, especially if those neighbors are pretty well off. Which is why people tend to join groups like the NRA, get involved in political parties (and their subgroups) and/or contribute money to corporate PACs or unions.* This is actually the way it's supposed to work; after all, we live in a republic, not a democracy, and a damn good thing too.
Unfortunately, the level of government we have the least control over has been growing pretty steadily since the 1930s, so people tend to feel more disaffected and less prone to get involved in local government. Since the media tend to cover federal government the best (that's where they all are, after all) that's an additional source of distraction and disaffection. And pretty soon everybody goes crying to their Congresscritter for every little thing, which is how we wind up with all this goddamn pork in the budget.
Also unfortunately, there's this tendency to act as if the President is some kind of God-Emperor who can fix anything or cure any problem or hold back the waves by his command. I see this in some of the Obama supporters, and it does worry me some.
I'm burned out from the day's work and maundering a bit here. Maybe I'll come back to this later.
*Actually, union contributions are involuntary and you have to fight like hell to make them stop using your dues on candidates you hate.