A little over eight years ago, I was on a business trip in Wilmington, Delaware on election night of 2008. Later in the evening, when it became evident that Obama had won, I ran to the local Walgreen’s to pick up a few things. There were a lot of people in the street in a very happy mood, most of them black people wearing Obama paraphernalia. As I was in line at the store, a couple of black women embraced, tears of joy streaming down their cheeks at the prospect of a black president. I remember thinking in that moment that Barack Obama had a chance to be a transcendental president and one that had a unique chance to heal a nation still bereft of racial tensions, especially in the inner cities. I thought that Obama had a real chance to bring American together.
Unfortunately, eight years later, he has proven not to be the transcendental leader I thought he had the chance to be. For me, Obama’s presidency has been a disappointment. I feel like so much potential was left on the table, so much good that could have been done is sadly left undone.
One of Obama’s biggest challenges was that he was woefully unprepared for the heavy administrative duties of the Executive Office. From the beginning he showed his inexperience. But, I really don’t hold that against him. Where he really failed in my eyes was his absolute inability and unwillingness to put aside is political ideology and show a desire to cross the aisle and work with the other side. He felt he had a mandate to bring to pass the liberal panacea. To be fair, the Republicans took a “we’re gonna block everything”strategy, but Obama never really got outside is beloved liberal ideology. Because of this, he, the Democrats and the Republicans only further polarized American politics and deepened racial divides and tensions in the inner cities. I would have liked to have seen him step up, show leadership and show his side and the other, that America comes first and that we can compromise. But, there was no compromise, on his part or by the Republicans.
I don’t think my opinion is too far from reality, really. Why do I say that? Because Barack Obama’s failures in leadership has handed the presidency to the likes of Donald Trump. And it is not just Trump. Since Obama has been elected, the Democrats have lost 1,030 seats in government all over this country. That is an astounding number and in my mind, a unmistakable repudiation of Obama’s leadership and policies. The American people have been voting against him and his party for the last four years.
Another huge problem with Obama was the fact that he was one of the only presidents to oversee 8 years of GDP that never, ever went beyond 3%, the national debt was increased by 12 trillion dollars. That number just sickens me as generations of Americans will be saddled with the burden of this irresponsibility. True it is that Obama doesn’t have the power of the purse, but his liberal policies and inability to work with the other side, drove up the debt without a budget. In addition to the huge debt, 1/3 of the American population remains without a job or not in the workforce. Nearly one third are on welfare assistance of some kind. More and more Americans are struggling to find decent jobs with many working two jobs to equal what they had pre-Obama. The USA has never really got out of the funk caused by the last recession, which begun in the waning days of the Bush administration.
Obama’s one and only signature policy was the Affordable Care Act, which while it helped a relatively small portion of the American population, has also grievously burdened the middle class and the self-employed with outrageous premiums and deductible hikes that have driven thousands to drop healthcare altogether, thereby defeating the purpose of the ACA. Premiums for the self-employed and others have reached levels to where they are paying more for monthly healthcare premiums than for a mortgage and the deductibles are ridiculously out of reach. ACA has been a major failure by all accounts, even by the honest Democrats.
Obama’s immigration policies were disgraceful and dangerous to America. Essentially, because he disagreed with the current immigration law and because he could not work with Congress, he chose to ignore the laws on the books and encourage a disorganized free-for-all on the southern border that has put millions of people, both illegal immigrants and Americans at risk.
I thought his foreign policy was too weak, but I’m not surprised as it was quintessential liberal foreign policy thinking. On some levels I agreed with his foreign policies such as avoiding further international conflicts, but he pulled out too quickly in Iraq and he flat out bungled the situations in Libya and Syria and thousands upon thousands have suffered greatly because of it.
But, despite all my disagreements with Obama politically, I can say that I have been deeply impressed with him as a man, a husband and a father. By all accounts he loves and is faithful to his wife. He loves his children and seems to be interested and involved in their lives. I have to respect this as these are significantly important values to me. His presidency was scandal free, especially of the salacious kind. His rhetoric as president has largely been measured and fair, though I wish his actions more matched his words. In addition to him, I thought Michelle Obama portrayed a very good example of what it means to be a strong woman, a partner to her husband and a good mother.
Obama has handled the transfer of power with great class. I can imagine that it must be hard to hand over the office to the likes of Donald Trump, but to his credit he has respected the will of the people and the Constitution. He has not got down in the gutter but has respected the process. My hat is off to him for that as it is so important to promote a peaceful transfer of power.
I am happy Obama is leaving office, mostly because change is needed and change is good. The change in power concept afforded by the Unites States Constitution is an awesome thing. Unfortunately, in this instance, the change brings us Donald J. Trump. I will keep my fingers crossed for my country these next four years.
I believe in the rear view mirror of history, Obama will be viewed as a largely ineffective president. His biggest claim to fame will be that he was the first black president. He could have been much, much more than that. He came in promising hope and change. For me, there wasn’t much to be hopeful for and we certainly didn’t get the change we needed.