Having lived in the United States since 1987, off and on, and then becoming a U.S citizen in 2004 after Sweden allowed dual citizenship starting in 2001, I’ve become entrenched in the “American” culture and way of live. I’m happy to live in the United States; it’s a great country with great opportunities, but it is not America!
America consists of 55 countries and territories, including of course the United States of America. The U.S.A. is the largest of the 55 entities, with more than 320 million people, followed by Brazil with about 205 million, Mexico with about 121 million, and then the population figures drop below 50 million for all other countries and territories. Colombia, Argentina, Canada, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and Ecuador - in that order – are in the top 10 most populous countries in America as well. These top 10 most populous countries in America make up about 88 percent of the total population of some 982 billion people in the region which, by continent, includes North America and South America.
No wonder the rest of the Americas, and perhaps the rest of the world, gets a bit annoyed when Donald Trump adopts the slogan “Make America Great Again” and Hillary Clinton uses the tagline “Make America Whole Again” in some of her speeches. The “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan was actually first used by Ronald Reagan during his 1980 presidential campaign, and the slogan was synonymous with Reagan for most people until Trump picked it up as a campaign theme in 2015-2016.
And, it clearly doesn’t get better when sports leagues in the United States win “world championships”. Major League Baseball (MLB) winners actually think they win the “World Series,” and National Basketball Association (NBA) winners often refer to their championship as “World Champion.” Japan and Cuba, and others, likely differ on their opinion with the U.S. on baseball’s “world series", and a host of countries likely have issues with basketball’s “world champion.” For example, at least 75 countries play baseball, and a total of 56 countries have participated in the FIBA World Cup.
Now, traveling within the 50 United States, using the word “America” and referring to the United States of America is usually not an issue. I certainly don’t correct people or take issue with the phrase. But traveling outside the borders of the U.S. and using “America” to mean the United States of America can be bothersome to many and outright silly in a political and cultural sense. The U.S. certainly doesn’t speak for or represent 55 countries and territories on all issues – or any issues – and it is pretty obnoxious to sound as such.
Definitional boundaries, clear messages, and strong leadership is what the U.S. should be about in the global marketplace. We compete in the world with diversity, innovativeness, quality, and timeliness.