The feature stories, dispatches, columns, and essays in The Atlantic's October issue include:
The New Price of American Politics
Not since the Gilded Age has our politics been so wide open to corporate contributions and donations from secret sources. And the new era of big money has just begun. Jim Bopp, the ideological force behind Citizens United, believes this is a good thing--the more money, the better, he says. Reformers like Trevor Potter, who has helped the faux news anchor Stephen Colbert navigate the new landscape of political money--often to great comedic effect--disagree. As James Bennet reports, this battle is over the most-basic ideas of our democracy; at stake, according to both sides, is either the revitalization of politics, or its final capture by the rich and powerful.
Digital exclusive: James Bennet and the campaign-finance lawyer Trevor Potter break down political ads from the 2012 campaign.
The League of Dangerous Mapmakers
Who's most to blame for our divisive politics? How about the gerrymanderers quietly deciding where your vote goes? Redistricting, the ritual carving and paring of the United States into 435 sovereign units, was intended by the Framers to keep democracy's electoral scales balanced. Instead, redistricting today has become the most insidious practice in American politics. Robert Draper goes inside the dark art and modern science of mapmaking to reveal how a few determined partisans can rig Congress.
The Ballot Cops
Thirty years ago, the Republican National Committee was accused of violating the Voting Rights Act and ordered to cease its "ballot security" efforts. Now an organization called True the Vote wants to pick up where the RNC left off, by building a nationwide army to root out voter fraud--or, as some would say, to suppress voter turnout. Mariah Blake charts the group's rise, and its aspirations this November.
They Taught America How to Watch Football
The coach as general. The players as gladiators. Ed Sabol and his son, Steve, have spent the past half century at NFL Films, inventing the tropes of modern football. Color, slow motion, ubiquitous cameras and microphones, the omniscient narrator invoking the language of war--the Sabols pioneered all of this and, in so doing, helped make football the national game. Ed, now 95 and ailing, and Steve, who succumbed to an inoperable brain tumor on Tuesday, spoke to Rich Cohen about their legacy, and that of the game.
Special Report: The State of American Schools
Why Kids Should Grade Teachers
A decade ago, an economist at Harvard wondered what would happen if teachers were evaluated by the people who saw them every day--their students. The idea--as simple as it sounds, and as familiar as it is on college campuses--was revolutionary. And the results seemed to be, too: remarkable consistency from grade to grade, and across racial divides. As Amanda Ripley reports, a growing number of school systems are administering the surveys--and might be able to overcome teacher resistance in order to link results to salaries and promotions.
The Homeschool Diaries
In New York City, where private schools cost tens of thousands of dollars a year and many public schools are just meh, teaching your own kids can make the most practical sense. Paul Elie explains why he decided to homeschool his twin boys--at least for now.
The Writing Revolution
For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School's dismal performance--not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school's principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed, according to Peg Tyre, was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, in nearly every subject--a turnaround that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform.
Plus, how do schools stack up state by state? Nicole Allan offers a national report card.
After the Oil Rush
Since discovering the largest known oil reserves in North America more than 40 years ago, oil companies have pumped more than 12 billion barrels of oil from Alaska's Prudhoe Bay. Today, a little more than 4 billion barrels remain. Charles Homans asks: What does the state's post-oil future look like?
Tea and Kidnapping
Sarah A. Topol goes into the Egyptian desert with the world's friendliest hostage-takers. One sheikh advises: Don't think of it as kidnapping. Think of it as a "tourist safari."
Could Gary Johnson's turn as a libertarian in favor of drug legalization influence the presidential election? Molly Ball sits down with the former governor of New Mexico, who is polling particularly well in swing states such as Colorado (7 percent), Arizona (9 percent), and New Mexico (13 percent).
The Selfish Meme
This spring, researchers at Harvard University revealed what many people already know: we like to talk about ourselves. As Frank Rose reports, there may be evolutionary advantages to sharing all those tweets with the world.
The Next Panic
Everyone knows the trouble facing the euro zone, but don't let Europe's woes distract you from the bigger picture: we are all in a mess. Who could be next in line for a gut-wrenching loss of economic confidence? For Peter Boone and Simon Johnson, all signs point to Japan.
More than 20 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels have been sold or downloaded, making the trilogy one of the fastest-selling book series in recent memory. James Parker wonders: What does this S&M juggernaut say about the modern sexual condition?
The Weaker Sex
Why are more professional-class women looking at their mates and thinking: How long until I vote you off the island? Sandra Tsing Loh, in typical candid and hilarious fashion, explores the new gender economics.
Plus, in a live chat on TheAtlantic.com on October 4, 2012, at 3 p.m., ET, Loh will take readers' questions on women who out-earn their husbands, among other topics.
These articles and more are featured in the October issue of The Atlantic, available today, September 20, 2012, on TheAtlantic.com and newsstands.
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Since its founding in 1857 as a magazine about "the American Idea" that would be of "no party or clique," The Atlantic has been at the forefront of brave thinking in journalism. One of the first magazines to launch on the web in the early 1990s, The Atlantic has continued to help shape the national debate across print, digital and event platforms. With the addition of its news- and opinion-tracking site, TheAtlanticWire.com, and TheAtlanticCities.com, The Atlantic is a multi-media forum on the most critical issues of our times, from politics, business, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic is the flagship property of Washington, D.C.-based publisher Atlantic Media Company.