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?

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.