A Nation Divided

SUSAN WALSH/AP

PRESSING THE FLESH: Bush meets supporters at a Pennsylvania rally

To paraphrase Walt Whitman, a U.S. election contains multitudes. The long, drawn-out campaign — the primary season, the spring offensives, the summer punctuated by the scripted drama of the party conventions, the mad dash from Labor Day to the finish line, the debates, the breathless and sometimes inaccurate projections of state-by-state results by TV anchors — add up to a political carnival in which, like a Brueghel painting, there are enough details to satisfy any taste. All elections matter. The U.S. presidential election, because it chooses the leader of the nation whose policies have so much impact on the world, matters...

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