Art by Dadu Shin
The Election Issue

We’ve Been Here Before

It’s another election season, and we’re in reruns. Donald Trump, the first convicted-felon former president, is carrying on at rallies as ever, repeating the word “rigged.” Joe Biden, America’s oldest president, is mostly staying home, also as before. The world rages with war; stateside, democracy feels imperiled. “We’re just kind of over it,” Noemi Peña, a twenty-year-old from Tucson, told the Wall Street Journal in March. “We don’t even want to hear about it anymore.” Fair enough: When the report each day is that it’s doomsday, why not change the channel? There are countless purveyors of political “content”—gossip, rant, clip, meme, partisan faux-news report—with whom reporters must compete for possession of “truth.” The scrolling is infinite—overwhelming and mind-numbing and sometimes just boring. News avoiders now just about outnumber close followers; the notion of “political junkies” sounds retro. If apathy was a problem the press could once ignore, it’s harder now that the business of journalism—and perhaps much more—depends on getting people to pay attention.

Fact-checking for this issue was provided by Kris Cheng, Matthew Giles, Noah Hurowitz, Sophie Kemp, and Will Tavlin. Copyediting was done by Mike Laws.