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About Godfrey Hodgson

Godfrey Hodgson was director of the Reuters' Foundation Programme at Oxford University, and before that the Observer's correspondent in the United States and foreign editor of the Independent. He is the author of The Myth of American Exceptionalism (Yale University Press, 2009).

Articles by Godfrey Hodgson

This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

How the US presidential election lost its glory

For a veteran observer of the American political scene since the 1960s, Monday’s first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not just anticlimax and disappointment: it is unimaginable.

American leadership, and a system failure

The combination of a faded president, discredited rivals, and a dysfunctional political system spells trouble for the United States - at home and in the world, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America against the tide

The United States's capacity to build alliances and extend influence was once founded on confidence that history was on its side. No longer, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Ronald Reagan and America: the real legacy

The posthumous inflation of Ronald Reagan’s political achievement is also a covert critique of George W Bush’s foreign-policy failures. But there are deep continuities between the two administrations, says Godfrey Hodgson.

(This article was first published on 9 June 2004)

America’s presidential politics

Barack Obama’s hopes of a second term are still bright. But twin policy crises and Republican stirrings are clouds on his re-election horizon, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America's political suspense

The manoeuvring over the United States presidential election in 2012 is underway. But the nature of a contest defined by issues of ideology and economy rather than personality is also beginning to emerge, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Libya, Arab democracy, and western policy

The United States and European intervention in Libya leaves open key questions about the future of western power in the wider region, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America and the Arab revolts: faces of power

The crisis in Libya is confronting the United States with a new awareness of its military and political constraints, says Godfrey Hodgson.

American tragedy, political response

A murderous assault on a public meeting in Arizona has further exposed the United States’s deep political divisions. President Obama’s reaction, for all the praise it received, failed to meet the moment, says Godfrey Hodgson. Now, with the state-of-the-union address, he has another chance.

America’s fiscal-political trap

The systemic flaws in United States governance make long-term policy to address its cavernous deficits impossible, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Thanksgiving and the Tea Party

The new populist right is filtering America’s most inclusive tradition through a political lens. In doing so it feeds an alarmingly reductive view of national history, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America’s world: salesman and missionary

The United States in the early 21st century is caught in the gap between a potent domestic sense of manifest destiny and a shifting global political reality. President Barack Obama embodies the ensuing dilemma, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America’s mad-hatter politics

The rise of the populist Tea Party movement is dominating the United States's mid-term election campaign. Yet its significance escapes the country's political and media class, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America’s emotional-political moment

The result of the mid-term elections in the United States will reflect less the political calculations of many voters than their profound sense of disinheritance, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America divided: the politics of inequality

The entrenchment of inequality in the United States damages the economy, degrades politics and corrodes the American dream. A new reality is also an epic challenge of leadership, says Godfrey Hodgson.

America's Afghan dilemma: Goliath as David

Barack Obama’s appointment of David H Petraeus to lead the war against the Taliban highlights enduring tensions in the United States over the role of the military in its political life, says Godfrey Hodgson.

The war for American minds

The great contest of the United States in 2010, the one that will decide the fate of Barack Obama’s vision of national renewal, is not at heart about politics. It is a clash about the moral nature of American society, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Barack Obama: a market report

The political fate of this United States presidency is now coming to turn on the mid-term elections in November 2010, says Godfrey Hodgson.

The great American refusal

Barack Obama’s healthcare-reform bill is a real legislative achievement. But the toxic atmosphere surrounding its passage reflects widespread denial of the very legitimacy of his presidency. This is a new twist on a story that began in the 1960s, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Barack Obama and America

An inspiring candidate has become a failing president. But a comparison with Lyndon B Johnson shows that the reasons for this outcome are more than personal. Change had come to America before Barack Obama got to the White House, says Godfrey Hodgson.

The American political system: ruin and reform

The Supreme Court has just made even harder the effort to limit the degradation of American politics by money, says Godfrey Hodgson.

It’s the presidency, not the president

Barack Obama’s great promise is so far unfulfilled. But his record in office - and his capacity to improve it - must also be measured against the nature of the institution he heads, says Godfrey Hodgson

It’s the presidency, not the president

Barack Obama’s great promise is so far unfulfilled. But his record in office - and his capacity to improve it - must also be measured against the nature of the institution he heads, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Barack Obama: imperial president, post-American world

There is an increasing mismatch between the demands on the American presidency and the realities that constrain it, says Godfrey Hodgson

Barack Obama: reality time

A presidency born in hope of change is stuck. A year since Obama’s election, an anniversary assessment from Godfrey Hodgson.

(This article was first published on 30 October 2009)

Barack Obama’s poisoned shirt

The Nobel peace prize is intended to encourage the United States president to consolidate the great intentions of his first year in office. But it may do him more harm than good, says Godfrey Hodgson.

(This article was first published on 12 October 2009)

Barack Obama’s great test

The American president’s attitude towards international allies, partners and adversaries reveals the limits of his political leadership, says Godfrey Hodgson.

The Kennedys, the Democrats, and Obama

Senator Edward Kennedy's death closes an era in American politics. Can Barack Obama, by realising the hopes of a progressive presidency, shape a new one? Godfrey Hodgson looks back and thinks forward.

The United States: democracy, with interests

The powerful opposition to Barack Obama’s healthcare-reform plan reveals how crucial features of the American political system operate, says Godfrey Hodgson.

(This article was first published on 10 August 2009)

Barack Obama’s world

The United States president's global ambitions match the expectations placed on him. But the resources to fulfil either are lacking, says Godfrey Hodgson, in the second part of a six-month assessment.

Barack Obama: a six-month assessment

The potential of the United States president to make the change he promised in the domestic arena is becoming clearer, says Godfrey Hodgson, in the first of a two-part overview.

The Cairo speech: letter to America

The intended audience of Barack Obama’s speech in Egypt on the United States and the Muslim world includes the people back home, says Godfrey Hodgson.

Barack Obama’s hundred days

The United States president reaches a landmark in office with the achievements of his first term already in the balance, says Godfrey Hodgson.

After the G20: America, Obama, the world

A smooth London summit and European tour allow the global problems Barack Obama faces to be seen in their true scale, says Godfrey Hodgson.

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