POTUS - Leader of the Free World?

Examining a common phrase for perception.

Do you see the President of the United States as Leader of the Free World?

If so, what does that mean?

If not, do you find this sentiment harmless or jingoistic?

In what county or region do you reside?


Australian here.
You must be joking. Free world leader. Pfffft! Nope, no way, never, nada.
I find that tag extremely offensive and it makes my blood boil.
I am part of the free world of which is mentioned and I do not in any way consider your leader any way reflective of me, my country or the views on freedom that we hold.

I don’t refer to POTUS that way, don’t know anyone who does. It’s clearly not true, except in some rhetorical sense (and even then I don’t buy it). However, I don’t think the phrase is really used very often, and never intended literally.

The last time when someone over here used that phrase unironically was during the Kennedy administration.

De facto Leader of The Free World? Of course not. Closest thing available? Sure.

It’s a pretty meaningless phrase in a post-Cold War context anyway. The President has far more influence in countries we’re giving money to than to countries we aren’t, whether or not they’re “free”.

I hate this expression. It implies that us Canadians have to accept either:

a) Obama (and by extension Bush) leads us and somehow represents us, which he does not and should not, or

b) Canada is not a part of the free world

Neither of these two options are exactly attractive to me. Look - I like Barack Obama, I watched the results on election night, I watched the inauguration today, I’m interested to see what will happen next. But no American president speaks for me or my countrymen - we are our own people and we go our own way.

I’m from the U.S., and I hate this phrase. We want other countries to be free and independent, that’s the whole point. The U.S. is not the boss of anybody, doesn’t mediate disputes between countries, isn’t the Parent or Policeman of the world. We have a hard enough time being responsible for making our own decisions and I certainly don’t want it said that we’re responsible for everyone else’s.

…and it’s just sheer coincidence that we always go the way the Americans want us to! :wink:

I guess he is by far the most powerful individual in NATO, which can be seen as representing the military might of the “free” (now really just Western) world.

But it’s obviously a cold-war relic as others have mentioned.

I agree. That phrase generally goes down like a lead balloon here.


While it’s certainly not the best phrase there is, I can’t think of any phrase that would indicate the relative importance of the US President in the world that wouldn’t ruffle feathers. As such, well, why not take we got and live with it?

I know you’re kidding here, but I don’t think we do go with the Americans all that often. Canada has been far more progressive and liberal with certain social issues (eg. gay marriage) than the US. We have heavily publicly funded health care and education. These are fairly major things that set us apart from the US and are some of the reasons I don’t like our countries being lumped together.

While the word “insignificant” will ruffle some feathers, it’s the one I would apply. Why do you think the US President has any relative importance to people outside the USA apart from none?

I didn’t see a lot of the free world following W into the Iraq quagmire. Leaders are not leaders without followers.

The problem is not the indication of importance – it’s the connotation of allegiance. Call him the most powerful or even important person in the world whenever you like, but declaring your leader our leader is presumptive and insulting. You can’t expect that to go over very well.

The US is highly influential in many areas, in many ways? Sure, no problem with saying that. Shining example of democracy and freedom? Not so much under Bush, but it wouldn’t really bother me that much.
Leader of the Free World? Um, no. Anyone claiming the POTUS is the leader of the free world has serious delusions or drastic ignorance about the way the world works.

I can think of one.

The President of The United States of America.

Everyone knows America. Everyone knows the power of America. Nothing more is necessary.

He is not the leader of the free world. He is the leader of America. That’s enough.

It’s a phrase that might have had some validity during the Cold War, but not any longer.

Unfortunately, it has a nice ring to it that talking heads enjoy.

The US needs to be partners with other nations, not a bully. The phrase is long past its due date, IMO.

Would you be happier with, “The Most Powerful Man in the World”?

The U.S.A. as the beacon of freedom and hope, along with the rhetoric about the President being the leader of the free world has taken some licks in the decades following WWII.

In the last couple of decades or so just about every world survey has placed Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and many other countries consistently ahead of the U.S. in a number of categories.

On the other hand, the free world owes much, very much to the U.S.A. If it weren’t for the superpower to the south of Canada, we wouldn’t have been so quick to cancel a lot of our military spending since the 1990s. I believe that much of our balanced budget since then is due to the 800 pound gorilla to the south who would never let us go it alone if push came to shove.

We, in Canada, should feel indebted to the United States of America. Perhaps even our universal health care is a result of our diminished military spending, which is directly related to the fact that our fine neighbour would never let us go it alone, if it came down to it.

Make no mistake: Directly or indirectly a lot of our freedoms in the “Western” world are tangentially connected to the superpower of the U.S.A.

I, for one, thank our American Overlords.