There was something ineffable in the air throughout 2009. At first, it was the prospect of change, a fuzzy promise that propelled candidate Barack Obama to victory in the November 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. His “yes we can!” slogan captured the imagination of U.S. voters and millions more around the globe.

That message mixed in equal parts optimism, the prospect of change and a shared sense of responsibility for determining the future. It was inevitable that the high hopes created by his election win would be deflated as the reality of governing set in.

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