Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

SARAH SILBIGER / BLOOMBERG / GETTY

Fewer than seven weeks remain before the 2020 presidential election.

This year’s race is proving a test for not only the candidates, but also, according to our reporters, a number of American institutions. Here are four arguments of note:

1. The media didn’t learn from 2016.

James Fallows, a longtime writer for this magazine, warns: “Many of our most influential editors and reporters are acting as if the rules that prevailed under previous American presidents are still in effect.”

2. And Fox News is speaking a different language.

“Like a vengeful God bringing chaos to Babel, Fox has helped to create a nation of people who share everything but the ability to talk with one another,” our staff writer Megan Garber argues.

3. Voting in person is relatively safe, experts now argue.

“Republicans have already been aggressively reassuring their supporters,” Russell Berman writes. “The question is whether Democrats will start to do the same.”

4. But American election law is terrifyingly inadequate.

“Twice in the past century and a half (in 1876 and 2000), the country narrowly averted a catastrophic deadlock over the presidential-election outcome,” write a pair of contributors to our Ideas section. “We may not be so fortunate in 2020.”

GUEORGUI PINKHASSOV / MAGNUM

One question, answered: When will the pandemic be over?

“As a matter of epidemiology, there’s no clear-cut criterion,” Joe Pinsker reports. So, for your own sanity, you might want to stop fixating on a singular end date.

Joe explains:

Unfortunately, the sublime post-pandemic period that so many are longing for will likely not arrive all at once, like a clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve. If and when the pandemic is over someday—in the sense that it’s safe to resume normal life, or something like it—pinpointing its conclusion may never be possible. Internalizing that, and mentally bracing for a slow fade into the new normal, might lead to less angst.

Continue reading.

What to read if … you’re considering giving in and buying a bunker:

You wouldn’t be alone: American bunker businesses are booming. Welcome to the age of conspiracy capitalism.

What to read if … you need a break from the news:

A woman surfed the biggest wave of the year—but you probably haven’t heard about it.


Did someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.