I was travelling through Europe the week of Barack Obama’s inauguration working with CIOs and their teams. One of the things that has changed since my last visit was that its now cool to be an American again. Let me explain.
People tell me that I am one of the ‘most American looking men they have ever met’ so when I am travelling in Europe everyone I meet, even on the streets talks to me first in English. There is little doubt in their minds that I could be from another place than the U.S.A.
For the past several years, that immediate visual identification has brought looks, comments and an occasional debate about how I could live in such a country. While some would comment that “It wasn’t me or Americans as a people, but their frustration with our government. It was just that you are such an American looking…” you get the picture.
I was in Europe on Election Day having voted early. After the election, the Europeans I met were glad that America had listened to the rest of the world, glad that there would be change.
Now, being in Europe during the inauguration that anticipation for change has turned into genuine excitement, anticipation and acceptance of America. From taxi drivers, to doormen, to people in the street, to colleagues being an American has become a good thing again. Sure the world welcomes President Obama recognizing this historic movement. But its more than a moment in history, it’s a change in outlook, a recognition that while we are in challenging times the future does not have to be an extension of the past.
It’s arrogant to think that the whole world is seeing America as the shining hope for the future of the world, so I am not saying that. It’s cool to be an American again because others see America as having rediscovered its moral compass. Brand America now stands for much more than just being a military power.