Lara Putnam

Lara Putnam is professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. She is active in grassroots democracy groups in southwest Pennsylvania.

Recent Articles

Digital Fixes Won’t Solve the Democrats’ Problems

Democratic strategists obsess over new apps to facilitate voter contacts, while grassroots groups are supercharging what really matters: making personal connections.

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Political connections have a long half-life. Canvassing for Democrat Conor Lamb in Washington, Pennsylvania , in March, I met an ardent supporter who couldn’t get around like he used to. So he was running a one-man anti-disinformation campaign from his desk, reaching out to friends he feared might be swayed by the Republican attack ads flooding into Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election. The Lamb supporter hated Trump, but it was Barack Obama who was on his mind as we talked on his porch. In 2007, the man had driven to Ohio to hear the young senator speak just days after he announced his presidential bid, and returned home to set up an Obama for America headquarters. “I knocked on every single door in my town three times that year,” he smiled, shaking his head, before heading back inside to his desk and his mission. Meanwhile across the district, calls, texts, and emails poured down on voters who just wanted it to be over. Democratic Party...