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In a week beset by unthinkable political drama, the vice-presidential debate offered a wormhole back to 2012—to a different moment in American politics. Specifically, one wherein Donald Trump did not sit center stage.

The debate was an “oddly normal” capstone for what was “perhaps the most chaotic week of a chaotic presidency,” my colleague Russell Berman writes.

As this week winds down, here are a few things that our writers who cover politics are thinking about:

THE ATLANTIC

One question, answered: What can I do to help ensure that this year’s election runs smoothly?

Our staff writer Anne Applebaum has some advice in her citizen’s guide to defending democracy. The short version:

1. Help out on Election Day—in person.

2. Help out from home.

3. Join something now. (For example, sign up to receive emails from voting-rights nonprofits.)

4. Talk with people.

5. As a last resort, protest.

Keep reading.

26 days remain until the 2020 presidential election. Here’s today’s essential read:

America is having a moral convulsion, David Brooks argues.

Today’s break from the news:

If we’re going to be inside, it might as well be the inside we want.” In her latest “Material World” column, Amanda Mull explores why Americans have turned to nesting.


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