Barack Obama ran for President without the elders and power brokers of the Democratic Party behind him. He ran on the vague notion of hope and change and on a set of concrete ideas about health care, the economy, foreign policy, the environment, education etc.,
Canada cannot have it's Barack Obama at the moment because out political structure wouldn't allow it. In Canada you have to get a good number of party insiders and power brokers behind you before you even think of running for the leader of a party - and then you have favors to replay. Then, when there is an election you break out the party platform but it's a targeted document. You make promises that you know you can't keep to the constituencies that you want to carry in the election.
Now before you jump to the conclusion that I'm apathetic, or that I don't think voting matters - there is a difference. Harper is more evil than Layton no question. That said, none of them is really trying to bring the country together. They are saying that if the country would like to unite behind them that the country is welcome to do that.
While I see a clear difference between political parties, I cannot ever see myself joining on of them. The political parties are not about 'ideas': The Liberals used to be, back in the days of Trudea. The NDP used to be, in the days of Tommy Douglass. The Conservatives haven't been about ideas in recent memory. They claim the ideas of the right, but then they do whatever it takes to stay in power. The Bloc may, possibly be about ideas, but they are bad ideas - which doesn't help.
Personally, I like individual people (candidates) and I like ideas (good ideas) but institutions are more interested in power than ideas and political parties are institutions. All of them, from what I can tell, will sacrifice any or all of their ideas if it means staying in power. What is really sad though is that even in the age of social media there is very little independent thought among party members. When a party does something, or makes an announcement, right or wrong the party line is echoed across it's share of the blogosphere generally without criticism (with the exception of Western Conservatives who recently discovered that Stephen Harper doesn't believe in much).
That means that, in Canada at least, the revolution in media is not creating a broader diversity of ideas. It is creating an echo chamber that is less diverse than what the main stream media was serving up before - which is just sad. So while I'm still contemplating what the Un-Party may become I won't join any political party where you are expected to abandon your ideas, on conscience on the alter of the part leaders.