Democracy Forum 2012 Archive

Archive of Shows from 2012

Between 2004 and 2012, the League of Women Voters - Downeast in cooperation with WERU FM produced and sponsored a series of radio programs on topics in participatory democracy called the Democracy Forum.

Here are programs from the 2012 archive.

Political Advertising and Its Effect on Voters and Elections - October 8, 2012

Special Guests:
  • Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Professor of Communication and Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Richard R. Lau, Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.


Key Discussion Points:


  • Does political advertising work? How does it work? Do ads change people's minds about the candidates?
  • Does negative advertising work better than straight ads? Are they more memorable? Do they persuade people about candidates, or do they make people so disgusted that they stay home?
  • Is this good for democracy? What can citizens do?


Listen to the conversation from the archive at community radio WERU FM.

Educating Voters; Educating Citizens - September 10, 2012

Special Guests:
  • Professor Jennifer Hochschild, the Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government at Harvard University.
  • Elisabeth MacNamara, the 18th president of the League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) and chair of the League of Women Voters Education Fund (LWVEF).


Key Discussion Points:


  • What is the role of public education in creating an informed electorate? What is the responsibility of the citizens themselves?
  • What is the difference between an educated electorate and a well-informed one? Does it matter for democracy?
  • Does ideology trump evidence? When the facts conflict with beliefs, do people mistrust the fact-checkers?
  • What can we as citizens do to inform ourselves? What can we do to inform each other across the partisan divide?


Listen to the conversation from the archive at community radio WERU FM.


Tea Party: What Can We Learn about Civic Engagment -- August 13

Special guests:


  • Theda Skocpol, Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University
  • Amy Fried, Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine.


Key Discussion Points:
  • Tea Party members, who they are, and what they believe
  • The movement's impact on elections and governing
  • What it means for civic participation


Listen to the conversation from the archive at community radio WERU FM.

Income Inequality: Does It Matter for Democracy - June 18, 2012

Special guests:
  • Richard Freeman, Herbert Ascherman Chair in Economics at Harvard University and director of the National Bureau of Economic Research
  • Susan Feiner, Professor of Economics and Professor of Women and Gender Studies


Key Discussion Points:
  • What are the trends in income inequality over the last century?
  • What are the factors that have caused the widening gap between the super-rich and everyone else?
  • Why does it matter? What are the risks to democracy?


Listen to the conversation.

Corporations in Politics and Public Policy - May 14, 2012

Special guests:
  • Robert Monks, shareholder activist, author, and corporate governance adviser


Key discussion points:
  • The role in of corporations in shaping public policy through financing political campaigns and lobbying
  • Do free enterprise and democracy go together?
  • Possible alternatives to the current system


Listen to the conversation.

Is the Two-Party System Working or Broken? -- April 9, 2012

Special guests: Key discussion points:
  • The role of the two-party system in federal elections and government
  • The effects of partisan politics in the Congress
  • Possible alternatives to the current system.


Listen to the conversation.


Dysfunction in Congress: What Do We Need to Make It Work -- March 12, 2012

Special guests:
  • 2nd District Congressman Rep. Michael Michaud
  • Arn Pearson, VP of Programs at Common Cause.


Key Discussion Points:
  • The underlying structural or procedural problems that keep Congress from governing effectively
  • Most important reforms, e.g., redistricting, campaign finance reform, return to regular order


Listen to the conversation.

Free Speech, Corporate Money, and Democracy - February 13, 2012

Special Guests: Key Discussion Points:
  • The constitutional background of granting personhood to corporations and equating political spending with free speech.
  • The practical outcomes for democracy.
  • What can citizens do?


Listen to the conversation.

What do we need to make our democracy work better - January 9, 2012

Special Guests: Key Discussion Points:
  • Why do you think Congress has such a low approval rating?
  • What are the systemic impediments that prevent Congress from responding to what members surely know citizens want?
  • Is campaign finance reform part of the solution?
  • Is the two-party system is part of the problem.
  • What about revising the Senate rules to limit use of the filibuster or other Congressional reforms?
  • How do you view the role of the media?


Listen to the conversation.