Once again, the U.S. has earned a cup of goodwill from the world – and we can, once again, blow it, big time.
The 2009 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index(NBI), which measures the brand equity of the world’s nations akin to product brand value, found that the U.S. is now #1 — rising to the top after languishing at #7 in 2008.

Behind us are France, Germany, the U.K, Japan, Italy, and our sister to the north, Canada.

Commenting on the study, Simon Anholt who founded the study observed, “What’s really remarkable is that in all my years studying national reputation, I have never seen any country experience such a dramatic change in its standing as we see for the United States in 2009. …The results suggest that the new U.S. administration has been well received abroad and the American electorate’s decision to vote in President Obama has given the United States the status of the world’s most admired country.”

Health Populi’s Hot Points: After 9/11, the collective heart of the world embraced the United States and poured out sympathy and empathy to us. The great majority of nations who had experienced terrorist acts before the U.S. had knew the feeling, and their generous displays of caring filled a cup of goodwill.

In the years that followed, that asset of goodwill dramatically eroded. Foreign policy, business practices, and growing distrust of America set in, especially during President Bush’s second term.

The fact today is, notwithstanding the protestations of those who deny globalization and the flattening world, that we are all global citizens now. Media and social networks are ubiquitous, from the poorest nations to the most developed.

My personal experience in working with clients overseas starting in about 2003 through October 2008 inform my perspective on “being #1.” More often than not, before a meeting outside of the U.S., I was asked about U.S. politics, The War in Iraq, and other aspects of U.S. life. While many individuals could distinguish between the U.S. government and the U.S. people, the bottom line was that America, like Rodney Dangerfield, got no respect.

Today, we’ve an opportunity in the Land of Obama to hold on to the promise that the world sees. But we’re not only Rodney D. in this instance: we are also Pogo, who met the enemy and saw it as “us.”

The health reform ‘debate’ over the past few months illustrates some of the worst aspects of American culture in 2010: disrespect, lack of thoughtful discourse, collective ADD, vitriol, demonization, racism. Let’s live up to the promise that global citizens see in the U.S.: our potential to lead once again in the ways that really count.