Obama can still remould America

My new column for the FT asks whether Obama's ambition to rewrite the US social contract was wrong all along. No, it wasn't, is my answer--but he has gone about it badly.

Barack Obama came to the White House with the ambition to nudge his country to the left - to make the US a bit less like the US and a little more like Europe. He recognised his nation's great strengths, he said, but wanted to address its weaknesses. Inequality was getting out of hand; schools were letting children down, especially those from poor families; the safety net had too many holes, especially the failure to guarantee access to healthcare.

A revision to the social contract was required. But nothing too radical, he implied: it could all be put right without undoing the "American exception".

The electorate liked the sound of that. Mr Obama won a comfortable victory, taking office with sky-high approval ratings and a remarkable sense of possibility. Less than a year on, voters are having second thoughts.

Here is the rest of "Obama can still remould America".