In a lengthy memo that he shared with Politico late last year, the Democratic strategist Doug Sosnik assessed what he called "a decade of anger and disaffection," noting that for 10 years in a row, according to polling by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, the percentage of Americans who believed that the United States was on the wrong track exceeded the percentage who thought it was on the right track. That's a change in the very character of the country.

"At the core of Americans' anger and alienation is the belief that the American dream is no longer attainable," Sosnik wrote. "For the first time in our country's history, there is more social mobility in Europe than in the United States."

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