That view usually leads our global neighbors to roll their eyes and mutter "Hypocrites" in various accents. America isn't the savior of democracy, they scorn from behind their baguettes. But the election of Barack Hussein Obama to the Presidency of the United States is already causing some of our European skeptics to wonder if maybe America can talk the talk and walk the walk of democracy:
Many French say that American exceptionalism must now be considered through other lenses. The neoconservative impulse in Washington in recent years, described by retired Army Col. Andrew Bacevich in his new book, "Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism," is associated with an evangelical passion to spread democracy, to "remake" the world, by force if necessary. But after Nov. 4, the New World example is taking on the meaning of President Lincoln's "last, best hope of earth," or Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of a country that evokes universal values by example at home [Robert Marquand, "For Europe, Obama Revives Positive Image of America's Unique Identity," Christian Science Monitor, 2008.11.17].
From the same article, more remarkable words from our friends (really!) in France:
"The Americans were choosing not just a president, but an identity," says [French writer Dominique] Moisi. "And that forces us to choose as well. Now we have to define ourselves without resort to anti-Americanism. That's something new."
"The decline of representative democracy is not irreversible," adds Zaki Laidi, a French intellectual writing in Le Monde.
Hm. Not even in office yet, and already promoting democracy, equality, and pro-American sentiment around the world. And he didn't have to order a single soldier into battle to do it. Good work, Mr. Obama... and good work, America.