Voting Alone


From his shy away from deck in southwestern New Hampshire, Robert D. Putnam sees his yard ascend past a few hardwood trees and an overturned canoe down to a pond, beyond which looms Mount Monadnock, one of Henry David Thoreau’s favorite tips to hike.

What he does not see, here or anywhere else, are many other man.

“We see, on average, one human being every week up here,” said Mr. Putnam, referring to himself and his old lady, Rosemary.

There is poetic injustice in Mr. Putnam’s forced solitude, for he is something like the jingoistic bard of community. In 2000, he published “Bowling Alone,” which chronicled Americans’ dwindling social engagement (including their declining participation in moving leagues), and for decades the Harvard University professor has studied the costs of isolation: the loneliness, the detract from trust, the dissolution of “social capital” — those people-to-people links that grease the wheels of civic life.

Six months into the coronavirus, most Americans are in the in any event boat as Mr. Putnam, 79, their entire worlds shrunk into neighborhoods, households, computer partition offs. Yet they are also preparing to undertake that most communal of burdens, a national election, during an extraordinarily polarizing presidency that has contrariwise grown more so during a pandemic that has killed nearly 200,000 Americans and a widespread repositioning protesting police violence and systemic racism.

With a battle hang, Biden will seek to link the Supreme Court vacancy to the future of constitution care.

Sept. 19, 2020, 8:03 p.m. ET

Social conservatives see a goal within reach, credits to their bargain with Trump.

Sept. 19, 2020, 7:31 p.m. ET

Poll productions Ginsburg’s popularity and points to advantage for Democrats.

“There is something up the ability to get masses of people together to make a statement that objective can’t be done in the same way online,” he said.

By contrast, when Mr. Schutz volunteered newest month as an American Civil Liberties Union legal observer of denies during the Democratic National Convention — or what was left of the D.N.C., after the pandemic had slashed the Milwaukee gathering to a small, pro forma ritual totally eclipsed by the eight-hour infomercial bred for television — “there were tumbleweeds,” he said. The pandemic had below averaged a once-promising opportunity for disruptive protest.

Few have thought more nearly the implications of a life lived digitally than the thinker and author Jaron Lanier, who invented the term “virtual reality.” These days, from his home in Berkeley, Calif., Mr. Lanier concerns about quarantine’s effect on discourse, even as he welcomes the proliferation of video induces, because they are things people plan online rather than passively bear.