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The Battle for Hope

PARIS – Since the arrival of President Barack Obama in the White House, there has been an undeniable rapprochement between Europe and the United States. But on the deeper and more fundamental level of emotions and values, is it possible that the gap between the two sides of the Atlantic has widened?

Today, there is much more collective hope and much more individual fear in America in the wake of the global economic crisis. But the reverse is true in Europe. Here one encounters less collective hope and less individual fear. The reason for this contrast is simple: the US has Obama, and Europe has the welfare state.

So what can be done to promote an “Americanization” of Europe in political terms and a “Europeanization” of America in social terms? Comforted by a new President who incarnates a return of hope, who inspires and reassures at the same time, Americans are starting to believe that the worst of the economic crisis is behind them.

What was at the beginning of this spring no more than “a glimmer of hope,” to use Obama’s phrase, has become a more serious and positive trend. Animated collectively by a combination of natural optimism and deep nationalism, Americans have made their president’s campaign slogan, “Yes, we can,” their own.