Democracy Forum 9/17/21: The Two-party System and the Future of Our Democracy

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

We’ll talk about the history and the future of the two major parties,
How parties change and evolve, how/why they splinter.
Are the parties too strong or too weak?
Are the two major parties in this moment so polarized that the system itself is undermined?
Has the modern two-party system made us ungovernable?
What reforms and options might be realistic? — multi-member districts, proportional representation, ranked choice voting?

Guest:
Lee Drutman, senior fellow at New America. He is the author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America
Sandy Maisel, Goldfarb Family Distinguished Professor of American Government at Colby College (emeritus)

To learn more about this topic:
“Quiz: If America Had Six Parties, Which Would You Belong To?” by Lee Drutman in the New York Times, September 8, 2021

“Have Democrats become a party of the left?” William A. Galston and Elaine Kamarck, for Brookings, July, 2021

“The Decline of the GOP,” Norm Ornstein in The Atlantic, August, 2020

Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America, by Lee Drutman, March, 2020. Watch an interview with the author at Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop – Political Reform.

Parties and Elections in America: The Electoral Process. by Mark D. Brewer and L.Sandy Maisel, ninth edition, 2020

The Parties Respond: Changes in American Parties and Campaigns (Transforming American Politics) Mark D. Brewer and L. Sandy Maisel, fifth edition, 2018 (essay collection)

“This Maine Initiative Could Shake Up the Two-Party System,” by Hendrik Hertberg in The Nation, October, 2016.

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks by Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein, April, 2016.

“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: America’s Love Affair with the Two-Party System,” Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective, Marc Horger, July 2013.

Prerecorded on 9/15 using Zoom technology.

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 6/18/21: Protest: Good Citizenship at Work?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

Protest: Good Citizenship at Work?

We talk about whether protests are a legitimate, if not necessary, form of civic participation.
Are protests good citizenship or are they civil disorder?
Is protesting effective in changing public policy?
Are nonviolent actions more effective than those that involve violence?
When do protest movements succeed?

Guests:
Douglas Allen, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Maine
Erica Chenoweth, Frank Stanton Professor of the First Amendment at the Harvard Kennedy SchooL and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study

To learn more about this topic:
“What Anti-Protest Bills Reveal About The State Of U.S. Democracy,” OnPoint, WBUR, April, 2021

Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know, Erica Chenoweth, March, 2021

“The Myth of the Silent Majority: Americans have learned the wrong lessons about the political consequences of protest,” Daniel Gillian, The Atlantic, September, 2020.

“Protesting is as important as voting,” Andre M. Perry and Carl Romer, Brookings, August, 2020

“The Future of Nonviolent Resistance,” Erica Chenoweth, Journal of Democracy, July, 2020.

“Why protests matter in American democracy,” Daniel Gillion, Princeton University Press, June, 2020

Gandhi after 9/11: Creative Nonviolence and Sustainability, Douglas Allen, April, 2019

Prerecorded on 6/16 using Zoom technology.

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther
Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 5/21/21 Democracy and Unions: Do They Need Each Other?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

We talk about the historical and contemporary link between labor organizing and expanding political rights like voting.
-Is union organizing an important, if not essential, tool in building a vibrant democracy?
-Has the diminution of labor unions contributed to the politics of resentment?
-Has it provided fertile ground for the current moment of populist anger and stridently divided politics?
-What led to the demise of unions over the last half century?
-How could they come back?

Guests:
David Madland, resident senior fellow and senior adviser to the American Worker Project at the Center for American Progress.
Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO. She was the first woman elected to that position in 2015.

To learn more about this topic:
Re-Union: How Bold Labor Reforms Can Repair, Revitalize, and Reunite the United States, David Madland, May, 2021
In 2020, the number of unionized workers dropped, while the share of union members increased, USAFacts, January, 2021
Democracy Dies When Labor Unions Do, Eric Levitz in New York, September, 2019
Democracy Needs Unions, Christine Owens at Other Words, August 28, 2019
The Conservative Case for Unions, Jonathan Rauch in The Atlantic, July/August 2017
Democracy, Union Made, Phil Fishman in The American Interest, September 2007

Prerecorded on 5/17/2021 using Zoom technology

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther
Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 4/16/21 Divided We Stand: Can diversity be our strength?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

Key Discussion Points:
Whether this is one of the most divided moments in American history.
How have these fractured moments come up in our prior history?
What role is the emergence of multiracial democracy playing in this current divisive moment?
What role has race played in the divisions of the past?
Can a polity come back from such serious fragmentation?
How have we gotten past it before, or have we?

Guests:
David Blight, Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies at Yale University, and the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, among many other books and articles.

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Colby College. She is also an ordained Baptist minister and the assistant pastor for special projects at the Union Baptist Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To learn more about this topic:
“Three Great Revolutions: W. E. B. Du Bois, African American Women and Social Change,” Cheryl Gilkes in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, 2016.
“America is exceptional in the nature of its political divide,” Pew Research Center, November, 2020.
“How can America heal from the Trump era? Lessons from Germany’s transformation into a prosperous democracy after Nazi rule,” Sylvia Taschka in The Conversation, January, 2021.
“Appomattox and the Ongoing Civil War,” David Blight in The Atlantic, April, 2015.
“Multiracial Democracy Is 55 Years Old. Will It Survive?,” Adam Serwer in The Atlantic, January, 2021.
Anchor of the Soul, a documentary about Black history in Maine, 1994
“W.E.B. Du Bois’ Visionary Infographics Come Together for the First Time in Full Color,” wherein his pioneering team of black sociologists created data visualizations that explained institutionalized racism to the world, Smithsonian, 2018
Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy, Edward Ball, 2020

Prerecorded on 4/14/2021 using Zoom technology.

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes:

Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 3/19/21: Is that for real? Conspiracy Theories in American Politics

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

Participatory Democracy: Is that for real? Conspiracy Theories in American Politics

We’ll talk about the political and social conditions that give rise to conspiracy movements.
Why are people drawn to these ideas?
What are the conditions in civil society that are feeding into these trends?
How have these moments come up in our history?
How have we gotten past it before?
Can democracy function when these beliefs are widespread?

Guests:

Jamie McKown, James Russell Wiggins Chair in Government and Polity at College of the Atlantic
Joanne Miller, Associate Professor, Political Science & International Relations, Director of Graduate Studies, University of Delaware

To learn more about this topic:
Speaking of Psychology: Why people believe in conspiracy theories, with Karen Douglas, PhD, podcast of the American Psychological Association
Gender Differences in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theory Beliefs, Erin C. Cassese, Christina E. Farhart, and Joanne M. Miller. 2020
A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy, Nancy L. Rosenblum and Russell Muirhead, 2019

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 2/19/21: Can Democracy Survive the Internet?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

-Our information ecosystem and how it’s contributed to this very divisive moment in American politics:
-How did it go wrong, can we fix it?
-What role do mis- and dis-information, social media, media silos, and alternative realities play in fostering extremism?
-How are these issues playing out right here in real-world Maine?
-What remedies are suggested by research?

Guests:
Ronald Deibert, Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, Director of The Citizen LabMunk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, and author of the new book, Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society
Andy O’Brien, freelance journalist where he has been reporting on far-right groups in Maine for the magazine, Mainer. He is also a former Maine state legislator, former managing editor of the Free Press in Rockland

To learn more about this topic:
Reset: Reclaiming the Internet for Civil Society, Ronald Deibert, 2020
By Andy O’Brien from Mainer:
“Hatebook” – The Facebook group that promoted violence and death threats against Safiya Khalid, the first Somali-American elected to the Lewiston City Council
“Leaks Show Mainer’s Online Radicalization By Neo-Nazi Terrorist Cult”
“UMaine College Republicans Caught in MAGA Civil War”
“Maine GOP Leadership Goes to Bat for White Nationalistic College Club”
“Mob thinking has grown as news moves online,” Sara Fischer/Axios, January 2021
“Banning Trump won’t fix social media: 10 ideas to rebuild our broken internet – by experts,” The Guardian, January 2021
“Trump Is Fighting Section 230 for the Wrong Reason,” The Atlantic, January 2021
“How to Deal With a Crisis of Misinformation,” Brian Chen, The New York Times, October 2020

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 1/15/21: Searching for Common Ground across the Political Divide

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

We’ll talk about the political divide in the aftermath of the 2020 general election.
Do we share any common ground?
What happened at “America in One Room” in 2019? And what does it mean for American in 2021.
What lessons can we learn about American democracy and its future?

Guests:
Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
James Fishkin, Janet M Peck Chair of International Communication at Stanford University, and Director of the Center for Deliberative Democracy.
Steve Wessler, Maine human rights educator, trainer, and advocate specializing in conflict resolution

To learn more about this topic:
These 526 Voters Represent All of America. And They Spent a Weekend Together, New York Times, October, 2019
America in One Room
Our Common Purpose
“Pulling Our Politics Back from the Brink,” The New Yorker, November, 2020
“?You’re Wrong About: Losing Relatives to Fox News” on Apple Podcasts
The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good, Michaels J Sandel, 2020

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Ann Luther, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.

Democracy Forum 11/20/20: Election Reflections 2020

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

Participatory Democracy: Election Reflections 2020

We will talk about the November 3 general election
What just happened here in Maine and around the country
What went right, what went wrong
What it says about the future of our democracy

Guests b:
Shelly Crosby, Orono Town Clerk and president of the Maine Town and City Clerks Association
Matthew Dunlap, Maine Secretary of State
Amy Fried, John Mitchell Nickerson Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Maine
Jill Goldthwait, Columnist and former independent Maine State Senator
Meg McCormick, Maine Director & New England Coordinator, Campus Election Engagement

To learn more about this topic:
Half of Americans Don’t Vote. What Are They Thinking? Colin Woodard in Politico, February 2020
College Students, Voting and the COVID-19 Election, Knight Foundation, August 2020
The 100 Million Project: The Untold Story of American Non-Voters, Knight Foundation
Polarization and the Politics of Personal Responsibility. Jeffrey M. Stonecash and Mark D. Brewer 2015
In Suspense: Donald Trump’s Efforts to Undermine Public Trust in Democracy, Amy Fried and Donald B. Harris, October, 2020.

Prerecorded on 11/19/2020 using Zoom technology.

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Kirk Earl, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Judith Lyles, Ann Luther, Maryann Ogonowski, Pam Person, Leah Taylor, Linda Washburn

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.