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from The Great Debate:

Fighting for democracy in South Asia

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For the first time in post-colonial history, all of the countries of South Asia are democracies.

From Bhutan to Bangladesh, Kabul to Kathmandu, democratic institutions are taking hold and giving people a voice in how they are governed. But these historic gains could be short-lived if troubling trends in some impending political transitions go unchecked.

Over the next six months, more than one billion voters across South Asia will choose leaders of some of the most diverse and vibrant countries in the world. Coming elections in India and Afghanistan and successful recent elections in Pakistan and Bhutan illustrate the depth of passion voters across the region have shown for electoral democracy.

Yet, major setbacks in Bangladesh and the Maldives, and worrying signs in Nepal underscore just how fragile and vulnerable these democracies are and why the international community must remain engaged in supporting democracy in South Asia.

from The Great Debate:

For Biden, Mexico’s endless allure

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Vice President Joe Biden recently canceled the Panama leg of his trip to Latin America, citing the need to be in Washington, focusing on Syria. He did not, however, cancel his visit to Mexico.

Biden arrived in Mexico late Thursday night and is due to meet with President Enrique Peña Nieto, and kick off the U.S.-Mexico High Level Economic Dialogue (HLED). There were plenty of reasons for the vice president to stay home -- including the brewing budget battle, and the shootings in Washington's Navy Yard -- in addition to Syria. So it is worth asking why he didn't.

from India Insight:

Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi: The burden of perception

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)

Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi might find that fighting each other over who will be India's next prime minister is easier than fighting the perceptions of more than a billion of their countrymen about who the candidates really are.

from The Great Debate:

Where Karl Rove was right

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Give Karl Rove a break. His meltdown on election night may not have been entirely about Fox News prematurely calling Ohio for President Barack Obama. After all, the poor guy had every right to get upset while watching the Republican Party nominee’s campaign crash and burn.

For all intents and purposes, Mitt Romney trampled on Rove’s once vaunted GOP playbook -- and leaves a weakened GOP in his wake.

from The Great Debate:

Is Obama good for black people?

Is President Barack Obama good for black people?  While Obama heads into Election Day with strong support from black voters, some black intellectuals are pressing that question.

In a reproachful op-ed article in the Sunday New York Times, flanked by a large drawing of a black man literally muzzled by an Obama campaign placard, Columbia professor Fredrick C. Harris proposes that "black elites" and voters have effectively conspired to mute criticism of the president because of his race. This argument is plain wrong.

from The Great Debate:

Obama’s base and politics of disappointment

There may be no better illustration of President Barack Obama’s appeal than his ability to hold onto voters -- minorities, single moms and young people -- who have fared the worst under his presidency. The big question as we approach Election Day may be whether these constituencies, having been mauled by the economy, will show up in sufficient numbers to ensure Obama's re-election.

Welcome to the politics of disappointment. Much has been said about the problems facing the middle class, which has been losing out since the 1970s. But the biggest recent losers have been groups like African-Americans and Latinos. In the current economic downturn, middle class African-Americans have lost virtually all the gains they made over the past 30 years, according to the National Urban League. Median annual household income for blacks declined by more than 11 percent from June 2009 to June 2012, according to the Census bureau. That's twice the loss suffered by whites.

from Tales from the Trail:

Notes from Freedom, New Hampshire

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(View an in-depth look at scenes from Iowa and New Hampshire in a downloadable pdf format here and a look ahead to the primaries here)

MANY STILL WAITING FOR THE RIGHT REPUBLICAN

It's no secret that many Republican voters -- the ones who are even paying attention at all -- are not crazy about this year's crop of presidential candidates. Surveys have showed the enthusiasm level running low.

from Tales from the Trail:

Washington Extra – Swallows and Democrats

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In the words of Aristotle: "one swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy."

Nevertheless, Democrats might not be feeling quite so down in the dumps today, as evidence comes in that in early voting (allowed at election offices and satellite locations in 32 states) the Democrats are off to a stronger-than-expected start. It is impossible to tell how people actually voted, but Democrats do appear to be showing up in greater numbers in some key states than some had feared. But things are still not going as well for them as in 2008.

from Tales from the Trail:

Republican, Democratic party chiefs see victory in battle for the House

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In dueling appearances on the Sunday morning news shows, the heads of the Democratic and Republican parties made the same  prediction -- After the Nov. 2 elections, our guys will control the House.

mike_sarahRepublican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party's going into the final campaign stretch on a winning combination of momentum, excitement and energy.

from Tales from the Trail:

Pelosi takes on Chamber of Commerce over campaign spending

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The phrase "Buy American"  may be taking on a new connotation in the rough-and-tumble battle over corporate financing and the midterm congressional elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been pumping lots of cash into the campaign, received multimillion dollar donations from some major companies as it fought against government policies, the New York Times reported Thursday.

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