The problem with representative democracy is that you want to vote for ideas, but you end up voting for people. Athenian democracy was wrong because it strictly defined the voting public as being all male citizens -- but it was right in entrusting the people to make decisions for themselves, even if the people, in this case, was defined poorly.
One story of political progress has been the freeing of individual rights within the context of the gradual easing of societal constraints and pressures, from the Magna Carta to On Liberty, to The Rebel. Another has been the creation of the modern state -- at its' best, all-powerful when it comes to civic progress but at its' worst, a centralized butcher.
You can reconcile the two stories together by granting the people control over state machinery -- true control. A state with liquid democracy, the technology to easily record votes, and the right constitutional framework would protect against the tyranny of the majority while empowering people to make their own political choices. This is a long-term setup much more promising than low-turnout representative democracies -- which have already proven, under strain, to create tyrannies of the absolute worst kind.
There is no reason why you should have to vote for people whose main incentive is to win popularity contests for money and influence and who are beholden to their funders. There is no reason why you should vote for a policy package that comes attached to a villain who abuses others (Moore, Conyers, Franklin et al.). There is no reason your preferences for certain policies should fractionalize you into two broad-bloc teams that get elected based on how they demonize the other team. Hell, there is no reason for why your vote preferences have to be recorded in inefficient paper contests once every two years.
I recognize a lot of my critiques are directed towards the American system, and other representative democracies may be in a better state -- however, I can't help but think that in the laboratory of state systems, while we have a litany of autocracies challenging representative democracies from behind, we have no real direct democracies challenging us to get ahead.