GOOD

Stronger Social Bonds = Better Voter Turnout

Bonds to each other and to our communities can lead us to the voting booth.



In 1995, Robert Putnam published that rare thing: a academic paper that broke through, made noise beyond the Ivory Tower. With Bowling Alone: America's Declining Social Capital, and his related book, he diagnosed a widely felt ill and gave us a vivid metaphor to represent it.

His central thesis:

"For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, a powerful tide bore Americans into ever deeper engagement in the life of their communities, but a few decades ago -- silently, without warning -- that tide reversed, and we were overtaken by a treacherous rip current. Without at first noticing, we have been pulled apart by from one another and from our communities..."

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I have a couple of quibbles with Putnam. One, his stuff occasionally veers close to Greatest Generation crap, as when he says the people who came of age in the 30s and 40s, were "exceptionally civic-- voting more, joining more, reading more, trusting more, giving more." Two, his analysis of the causes is weak; for example, he overstates the importance of TV and overlooks the concerted effort by corporate power to break the bonds between people, which Chomsky discusses here.

But the notion that our social and communal ties have frayed seems incontestable. Despite the internet, our connections to each other aren't as strong as they could and should be.

Voting may seem like a purely solitary act, but Putnam correctly links the decrease in voting turnout to the weakening of our social bonds. If we belong to an organization—a labor union, a church, a local political party—that urges us to vote, we're more likely to do so. Likewise, social pressure, a potent get-out-the-vote force, is more likely to come into play if we're close to our neighbors. More generally, if we're civic-minded, we're more likely to engage in this quintessential civic activity.

A new era of strong civic engagement won't magically appear; it has to be created. That's why I've been using this space to talk about the idea of making Election Day a national holiday—a civic celebration to cultivate a culture of voting.

Fourth in a series. One/Two/Three

This post is part of the Take Back Tuesday campaign to make Voting Day a national holiday. Sign up or encourage your company to join in at takebacktuesday.good.is.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

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via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

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Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

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Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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