Democracy Forum 6/21/19: Town Meeting- “Doing Democracy” in Your Town

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

We talk about practicing politics and democracy at the most personal level, in local government, and the unusual experience we enjoy in the form of the New England town meeting.
Does the town meeting still work? Is participation up or down? Is partisanship creeping in? Is money “from away” taking more of an interest? If you’ve never been, what do you need to know?

Guests:
Susan Clark, is coauthor of Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home. She serves as Town Moderator of Middlesex, Vermont.

Susan Lessard, Town Manager for Bucksport. She’s worked town government in Maine for over twenty years in a diverse array of communities, some with and some without a town meeting form of government.

Dick Thompson, an experienced moderator for the Towns of Palermo, China, Vassalboro, and others, Dick conducts moderator training for the Maine Municipal Association.

To learn more about this topic:
Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home, Susan Clark and Woden Teachout, 2012.
Managing Town Hall meetings so that everyone benefits (and relatively few are miserable), Della Rucker in Creating a Wise Economy, May, 2015.
Citizen’s Guide to Town Meeting, Maine Municipal Association.
For the People, by the People: What I saw when I participated in one of the truest forms of democracy, Amy Crawford in Slate May, 2013.
Americans Aren’t Practicing Democracy Anymore: As participation in civic life has dwindled, so has public faith in the country’s system of government, Yoni Applebaum in The Atlantic October, 2018.
More citizen education from the Maine Municipal Association here.

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 5/17/19: Republic vs Democracy: Why Should We Care?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

What do those words mean: republic and democracy?

What do people mean when they say, “We’re not a democracy; we’re a republic,” in the context of different policy debates.

Is there a particular subtext implicating minority rights, even minority rule, and possibly states’ rights and federalism?

Guests :

Lance Dutson, a Republican communications consultant and a columnist for the Bangor Daily News. lancedutson.bangordailynews.com/about/

Joseph Reisert, Associate Professor of American Constitutional Law at Colby College www.colby.edu/directory/profile/jrreiser/

 To learn more about this topic:

  1. Democracy or Republic?, Jay Cost in Nationa Review September, 2018.
  2. Sorry, Liberals, But America Is Not A Democracy, And It’s Better That Way,, Clifford Humphrey in The Federalist February, 2018.
  3. Is the U.S. a Democracy? A Social Studies Battle Turns on the Nation’s Values Dana Goldstein in The New York Times April, 2019.
  4. Is the United States of America a republic or a democracy? Eugene Volokh, The Volokh Conspiracy, at The Washington Post May, 2015.
  5. You Say Democracy, I Say Republic, Jonathan Bernstein in Bloomberg April, 2019        

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 4/19/19 Citizen Initiatives: The Devil’s in the Details

Citizen Initiatives: The Devil’s in the Details

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine, www.lwvme.org
Engineer: Amy Browne

Key Discussion Points:
the historical origins of the initiative provisions,
how initiatives actually work in Maine,
our contemporary experience with them, their effect on politics and elections,
the tension between direct and representative democracy, and
proposals for reform, many of which are being debated in the Maine State Legislature right now.

Guests:
Joshua Dyck, Associate Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. www.uml.edu/fahss/political-science/faculty/dyck-joshua.aspx
Michael Franz, Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. mikemfranz.com/

To learn more about this topic:
Initiatives without Engagement A Realistic Appraisal of Direct Democracy’s Secondary Effects, Joshua J. Dyck and Edward L. Lascher, Jr., 2019
Ballot Questions in Maine, Polling Edition, Michael Franz, April, 2019.
Miller-Rose Initiative Database at the Rose Institute of State and Local Government, Claremont McKenna College.
Seizing the Initiative: A Short History of Direct Democracy in America Nick Johnson, April, 2018.
American Voters Are Turning to Direct Democracy, Vann Newkirk, Atlantic April 2018.

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 3/15/19

The Electoral College: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

Key Discussion Points:
The electoral college. its historical origins and the founders’ intent,
The practical implications for modern American politics,
Proposals for reform, including the National Popular Vote (NPV).

Guests:
Mark Brewer, Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine
Jamie Raskin, Professor Law at American University Washington College of Law and U.S. Congressman representing Maryland’s 8th District
Patrick Rosenstiel, CEO of Ainsley Shea, a Minneapolis-based public relations firm working to advance the National Popular Vote.

To learn more, follow these links to related content:

As American as Apple Pie? The Rural Vote’s Disproportionate Slice of Power Emily Badger in The New York Times, November, 2016.
The real reason we have an Electoral College: to protect slave states Sean Illing interviews Akhil Reed Amar in Vox, November, 2016.
The Electoral College badly distorts the vote. And it’s going to get worse. Katy Collin in The Washington Post, November, 2016.
Don’t Believe the Myths about the National Popular Vote, Saul Anuzis, The Hill, May, 2018.
Constitutional Law Professor Drops Bombshell on `Forgotten Americans’ at Democrats’ Electoral College Meeting, Jamie Raskin, Alternet December, 2016.
An Idea for Electoral College Reform That Both Parties Might Actually Like, Edward B. Foley, Politico January, 2019.
Alternative view: National Popular Vote would amplify Maine voices and empower small states, Patrick Rosenstiel in the Maine Wire, March 10, 2019.

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Sheila Kirby, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 2/15/19

The Free Press and a Functioning Democracy

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

We talk about democracy, journalism, the state of play in American news.
Can fact-based journalism survive?
Can democracy survive otherwise?

Guests:
Earl Brechlin, Earl was the founding editor of the Mount Desert Islander. friendsofacadia.org/news/friends-acadia-welcomes-earl-brechlin-communications-director/
Burt Neuborne, Burt Neuborne is the Norman Dorsen Professor of Civil Liberties and founding Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. He is the author of the book, Madison’s Music, that explores a deep reading of the First Amendment. its.law.nyu.edu/facultyprofiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=profile.biography&personid=20165
Judy Woodruff, Judy Woodruff is the anchor and managing editor of the PBS Newshour. www.pbs.org/newshour/about/judy-woodruff

To learn more about this topic:
More Important But Less Robust? Five Things Everybody Needs to Know about the Future of Journalism Reuters Institute Report, January, 2019
Does Journalism have a Future? Jill Lepore in The New Yorker, January 28, 2019
Is journalism’s `pivot to dust’ arriving? Megan McArdle in the Washington Post, January 26, 2019
How We Know Journalism is Good for Democracy, Josh Stearns, posted at Medium, a publication of PACE: Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, June 26, 2018
Local newspapers have already been gutted. There’s nothing left to cut. Steve Cavendish, the Washington Post, January 25, 2109.
Madison’s Music: On Reading the First Amendment, Burt Neuborne, 2015.

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Sheila Kirby, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

This episode of Democracy Forum was produced with support from the Maine Humanities Council.

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 1/18/19

Cyber Attacks on Democracy: Social Media, Fake News, and Voter Responsibility

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

Key Discussion Points:
We’ll talk about cyber attacks on elections, weaponizing misinformation, social media, and disinformation.
Is this the new normal?
Can democracy survive?

Guests:
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center and author of the new book, Cyber War: How Russian Hackers and Trolls Helped Elect a President – What We Don’t, Can’t, and Do Know www.asc.upenn.edu/people/faculty/kathleen-hall-jamieson-phd
Jamie McKown, Faculty, Government & Polity at the College of the Atlantic and James Russell Wiggins Chair in Government and Polity. coa.edu/live/profiles/1179-jamie
mckown/templates/details/faculty.php

To learn more about this topic:
Can Mark Zuckerberg Fix Facebook Before It Breaks Democracy?, Evan Osnos in The New Yorker, September, 2018.
Machine Politics, Fred Turner in Harpers Magazine, January, 2019.
Secret campaign to use Russian-inspired tactics in 2017 Ala. election stirs anxiety for Democrats, Washington Post, January, 2019.
New Report on Russian Disinformation Prepared for the Senate shows the Operations Scale and Sweep, Washington Post, December, 2018.
New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement in US Politics, Aaron Maté, The Nation, December, 2018.
The most underplayed story of the 2016 election is voter suppression, Rachelle Hampton, The New Republic, January, 2019. Call In Program: Yes

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Sheila Kirby, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 11/30/18

Election 2018: What Happened and What Does It Mean?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

Be sure to catch Democracy Forum in its regular time slot, 10-11 am on the 3rd Friday off each month. This edition of the Democracy Forum was canceled earlier in November due to a storm, and rescheduled in today’s time slot for this month only.

Key Discussion Points:
We talk about who won in Maine and why.
How do the election outcomes in Maine reflect national trends–or not–along the dimensions of party majorities, women and minority candidates, voter turnout, demographics, and voter suppression?
What does it all mean for governing in the biennium ahead?

Guests:
John Baughman, Associate Professor of Politics at Bates College. www.bates.edu/politics/faculty/john-baughman/
Jill Goldthwait, Columnist and former independent Maine State Senator www.mdislander.com/author/jgoldthwait

To learn more about this topic:
2018: Another ‘Year of the Woman’ Brookings, November 8, 2018.
Americans will head to the polls in a week. Here’s why some won’t. Washington Post, October 30, 2018.
Maine’s toss-up 2nd District appears headed to a ranked-choice count, Bangor Daily News, November 7, 2018.
Brian Kemp’s Lead in Georgia Needs an Asterisk, The Atlantic, November 7, 2018.
2018 exit polls show greater white support for Democrats, Brookings, November 8, 2018.

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Sheila Kirby, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org

Democracy Forum 10/19/18

Political Polls: Can We Ever Trust Them Again?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine
Engineer: Amy Browne

Key Discussion Points:
the state of the art in political polling,
why polls sometimes get it wrong,
the emerging challenges for pollsters,
what citizens need to know about who and what to believe.

Guests:
aAmy Fried, Professor & Department Chair, Political Science, University of Maine umaine.edu/polisci/faculty-and-staff/amy-fried/
Courtney Kennedy, Director of Survey Research at the Pew Research Center. www.pewresearch.org/staff/courtney-kennedy/

To learn more about this topic:
Can we still trust polls? by Courtney Kennedy, May, 2018, from FactTank: News in Numbers at the Pew Research Center.
Why Polling Can Be So Hard by Nate Cohn, September, 2018, from TheUpshot at the New York Times.
You can trust the polls in 2018, if you read them carefully by Josh Pasek and Michael Traugott for The Conversation.
Pathways to Polling: Crisis, Cooperation and the Making of Public Opinion Professions, Amy Fried, 2011.

The all-volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Sheila Kirby, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

FMI re League of Women Voters of Maine: www.lwvme.org