Making Democracy Work

Democracy Forum

Talk radio with LWVME

Democracy Forum on WERU FM Community Radio

Beginning in 2004 and every four years since, the League of Women Voters - Downeast in cooperation with WERU FM has produced and sponsored a series of radio programs on topics in participatory democracy called the Democracy Forum.

This year, broadcasts may be heard live from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. on the third Friday of the month beginning on February 19. Listen live at WERU Community Radio, 89.9 FM Blue Hill, 99.9 FM Bangor, streaming live on the web at WERU FM.

Here is information about upcoming programs in 2016.

Programs from the 2012 archive and the 2008 archive are also available online.

May 20: Us vs Them: Is Government the Enemy

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." -- Ronald Reagan, August 12, 1986.

We'll discuss the history and cultural origins of American attitudes toward government, how these attitudes have evolved over time, and whether these attitudes have been purposefully amplified by vested interests.

Special Guests:

Key Topics:
  • What are the origins of anti-government sentiment in American history and culture?
  • In what ways is government the enemy of freedom and liberty? In what ways is government the protector of freedom and liberty?
  • How have public attitudes changed over time and what forces have been at work to effect those changes?
  • Is this good for democracy? What can citizens do?

Listen to this show from the archive at weru.org

To learn more, follow these links to articles and essays that were mentioned on the show:

April 15: Moochers and Freeloaders: Welfare for the Rich, Welfare for the Poor

The death-knell of the republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others. -- Theodore Roosevelt

Special Guests:

Key Topics:
  • What's the difference between capitalism and "crony capitalism?"
  • How much money is the government giving away in welfare to the poor? To the rich? And to corporations?
  • How has the anti-moocher message been so successful?
  • Is this good for democracy? What can citizens do?

Listen to this show from the archive at weru.org

To learn more, follow these links to articles and essays that were mentioned on the show:

March 18: Whose Democracy Is It: Wealth and Income Inequality, Money in Politics

We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. -- Associate Justice Louis Brandeis

Special Guests:

  • Mark Schmitt, Director, Political Reform Program, New America
  • Tony Corrado, nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and Professor of Government at Colby College

Key Topics:
  • How are income inequality and political inequality tied together? Or are they?
  • We still have the vote. Doesn't that mean the people still rule?
  • Does it harm democracy if rich people rule?
  • If it's not practical or wise to eliminate these disparities, do we have a problem?
  • Is this good for democracy? What can citizens do?

Listen to this show from the archive at weru.org

February 19 - Political Equality: The Founding Vision, the Modern Reality

Who are to be the electors of the federal representative? Not the rich, more than the poor; not the learned, more than the ignorant; not the haughty heirs of distinguished names, more than the humble sons of obscurity and unpropitious fortune. The electors are to be the great body of the people of the United States. -- James Madison, Federalist 57

  • What do we mean when we talk about political equality?
  • Was it an ideal embraced by our founding fathers?
  • What did it mean to them? What does it mean to us today?
  • To what extent has the founding ideal been realized or thwarted?

Special Guests:
  • Ralph Ketcham, Maxwell Professor Emeritus of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University.
  • Mark Brewer, Professor and Interim Department Chair of Political Science at the University of Maine.

Listen to this show from the archive at weru.org