The US is the most powerful nation on earth, but its position of global supremacy is being challenged - economically, militarily and politically. And the person many Americans hold responsible for these failings is the president who promised them change.
The worldwide economic crisis of 2008 started in the US and the aftershocks are still being felt today. Unemployment is running at more than eight per cent, productivity is down and the national debt is a whopping $15tn.
Such turmoil makes it hard to honour electoral promises.
The country is deeply divided. The machinery of government has been tied in knots by partisan bickering and the rise of the right-wing, anti-state Tea Party and the street protests of the left-wing Occupy Wall Street movement are a reminder of how polarised the nation has become.
Despite this, Barack Obama, the US president, has pushed through healthcare reform and turned around the failing auto industry. He has stopped the war in Iraq and killed Osama bin Laden. But is this enough to win re-election for a second term?
And, whoever wins, will the next president have the unenviable task of overseeing the US' decline?
Joining our conversation in The Cafe in Washington DC are guests:
♦Amy Goodman is an award-winning journalist and the host of the independent programme, Democracy Now. Goodman is critical of the Obama administration and is worried about the erosion of democracy in the US.
♦Ford O'Connell is a long-time Republican strategist and activist who served on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. O'Connell believes Obama has not done enough to create jobs, thinks the bailout of the auto industry has failed and wants the US to take a much more hawkish stance on Iran.
♦Karen Finney is a former adviser to both Bill and Hillary Clinton and a strong supporter of the Obama administration. She was the Democratic National Committee's first African-American communications director.
♦Clarence Page is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and one of the US' best-known political pundits. Although Page is a supporter of Obama, he believes the president has not done enough to live up to the hope and change message of four years ago.
♦Wajhat Ali is a Muslim American lawyer and a playwright of Pakistani descent. He wrote the first major play about Muslims living in post 9/11 US and is also a co-author of a damning report on Islamophobia.
♦Bruce Fein is a constitution lawyer and proud libertarian. He served as an adviser to the Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and was associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan. He is an outspoken critic of US drone strikes.