When Barack Obama gave the speech that made him famous at the 2004 Democratic National Convention – and doesn’t that seem like a lifetime ago – it wasn’t just America that noticed. The words he spoke, the sentiment he expressed provided hope for the world: “Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over 200 years ago: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…’”
Obama’s campaign for president, with the message of “Hope and Change,” was felt not only in the US but was truly international. In Germany in 2008, Obama closed a main thoroughfare when he appeared. The French president all but endorsed him.
It was also what Barack Obama, who would become the first African-American U.S. President, represented. Obama was and is a man of the world. In his example and election, not once but twice, America set an example to aspire to, a country stumbling to find its better self – eventually. In travels, other countries marveled, and had to ask – with an obvious answer — if a member of a discriminated minority closer to home could rise so far.
What a difference eight years make.