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Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

We plan to take a wholly different approach to the 2020 election by focusing on the critical trends that are certain to outlive the moment.

Why it matters: Election coverage is too often myopic and maniacally focused on the daily churn of dust-ups and distractions. Toss in social media, and the emotionalism of the moment, and it’s easy to lose sight of the tectonic shifts unfolding in real time.

Here are the topics that will matter next year and beyond, which we will highlight in Axios AM, our website, our other newsletters and on “Axios on HBO”:

  1. Mind manipulation on social media is a defining topic of this era. America is addicted to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, creating wonderful tools for politicians to target voters — but also for bad actors to exploit fears and anxieties with fake or manipulative information. This is where most people get informed, so this is where we focus most of our attention.
  2. We're on the cusp of an enormously disruptive industrial wave driven by artificial intelligence and robotics. Candidates and voters are only beginning to get their heads around what this will mean for our jobs and lives. We will keep spotlighting this change as it rips through the global economy and reshapes our political landscape.
  3. China's economic, military and technological ambitions are reordering the world — and America's place in it. This doesn’t make China an enemy — it simply makes it a story of greater import and complexity.
  4. Human activity is driving Earth's temperature up, which creates serious threats. Climate change, and proposed policies to address it, deserve intense scrutiny, free of hyperbole and denial.
  5. All of the incentives in our health care system are pushing costs up, not down. This often gets lost — or downplayed — in health care debates.
  6. Demographics don’t lie: We are quickly becoming a very diverse nation, radically changing the politics of specific states and the whole nation. Few things animate American politics more than this shift.
  7. America is a capitalistic nation, brimming with economic possibilities but often stacked to favor the powerful and rich. Growing inequality has sparked a debate about whether and how American capitalism should be reimagined.
  8. Structural racism is the way racial inequities are locked into society by the social, economic, and political systems that impact all of our lives.

Yes, we will keep you up to speed on the daily developments that matter — but our focus will be on the long term, to rise above the distractions.

The bottom line: Our subject matter experts will serve our audience in four principal ways:

  • Smart Brevity: We aim to be wise, helpful and efficient in all we do, telling you what’s new and why it matters on these topics in real time.
  • Deep Dives: We tap the experience and knowledge of our subject matter experts to go deeper on each big topic. We want to help you think bigger about the topics reshaping the world — and force the campaigns to do the same.
  • On TV: Our “Axios on HBO” show will expand to more episodes starting in 2020, so we can bring the major characters and trends to life on your big and small screens.
  • At events: Watch for live events nationwide where you can see the big debates unfold.

Go deeper:

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Go deeper

Commission releases topics for first presidential debate

Moderator Chris Wallace. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace has selected what topics he'll cover while moderating the first presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden next week.

What to watch: Topics for the Sept. 29 debate will include Trump and Biden's records, the Supreme Court, COVID-19, economic policy, racism and the integrity of the election, the Commission for Presidential Debates announced on Tuesday. Each topic will receive 15 minutes of conversation and will be presented in no particular order.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
7 mins ago - Sports

MLB falls out favor with Republicans

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

MLB is the latest sports league to fall out of favor with Republicans following its decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta.

By the numbers: In mid-March, MLB's net favorability rating among Republicans was 47%, the highest of the four major U.S. sports leagues. Since then, it has plummeted to 12%, dropping the league below the NFL and NHL, according to new data from Morning Consult.

21 mins ago - World

Blinken makes unannounced trip to Afghanistan to sell troop withdrawal

Photo: CARLOS BARRIA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Thursday to meet with the nation's president, Ashraf Ghani, and Abdullah Abdullah, who is representing the Taliban in negotiations, per the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Blinken sought to reassure the pair that the U.S. will maintain support for the country, despite President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan starting May 1 and concluding in full by Sept. 11.

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