Written by Steven Spear, Jr.
James Buchanan, Rutherfor B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison are all forgettable Presidents who did not do much or who tried and failed at leading the country in a new direction. You cannot say the same for Barack Hussein Obama. His first two years were marked with major reform in healthcare and financial regulation, while the other six years were marked by major reform in our diplomatic relations with other countries.
Throughout 228 years of history, Obama was the fifth black U.S. Senator and the first black President of the United States.
Mitch McConnell (Senator from Kentucky) said, “My number one priority is making sure President Obama’s a one-term President.” In response to Obama increasing the size and authority of the government in his first two years, the conservative Tea Party Movement gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives in 2011. This group was unwilling to compromise with Obama and congressional Democrats.
President Obama had a Congress who was unwilling to work with him on immigration, and he began issuing executive orders that stopped deportations of illegal immigrants. These executive orders were called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). Twenty-six states sued to prevent the implementation of DAPA citing a President’s lack of authority to unilaterally delay the deportation of over ten million illegal immigrants. DAPA was stopped pending the completion of the lawsuit.
The U.S. was the only advanced country that did not guarantee healthcare to its citizens for decades. President Obama made this issue a top priority for his presidency, and the Affordable Care Act (nicknamed Obamacare) became law in 2010. To learn more about this law, read a previous ihpubs article here.
Bad decisions on Wall Street in the early and mid-2000s caused millions of families to lose their homes, caused a loss of over sixteen trillion dollars in wealth, and almost destroyed the U.S. and global financial systems. From the calls for stronger regulation of Wall Street banks, Dodd-Frank became law in 2010. To learn more about this law, read a previous ihpubs article here.
Obama had the opportunity to place three people on the Supreme Court. He appointed Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010. After Justice Antonina Scalia’s death in February 2016, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. (According to the Constitution, the Senate must approve nominations to the Supreme Court.) Senate Republicans blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination claiming that the people of the United States should choose who should fill the vacant seat in the November 2016 presidential election. Senate Republicans may have been worried about giving the Court a liberal majority, but it is worthy to note that Garland has a centrist record as a federal judge.
In stark contrast to President Bush (2001-2009), President Obama has been a strong advocate of multilateral action (acting only when in agreement with others). Republicans criticized the President and accused him of showing timidity and weakening the reputation of the United States.
Staying true to his 2008 campaign promise, Obama tried to improve diplomatic relations with Cuba, Russia, and Iran:
Cuba seems to be open to warming relations, and Iran had to accept changes in its nuclear program before relations improved. To learn more about what’s going on with Cuba and Russia, read the ihpubs article here.
Obama seemed to be making progress in improving relations with Russia from 2009-2010, but when Vladmir Putin came back into power in 2011, his hostile stance towards the U.S. was not tolerated.To learn more about what’s going on with Iran and the nuclear deal, read the ihpubs article here.
- Obama’s first Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, used an unprotected, private server to conduct government business. She was vilified by Republicans and investigated by the Justice Department and a House panel. This incident is widely regarded as one of the reasons that the public did not trust her and her defeat in the 2016 presidential election.
- Benghazi. Learn more about the 2012 incident that cost the lives of four Americans here.
- In 2013, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was discriminating against conservative groups. Over eighty percent of the groups that were subjected to extra scrutiny were conservative groups.
- In 2014, it was revealed that at least forty veterans had died while waiting for treatment from the Veterans Health Administration. People had to wait for weeks and even months to get an appointment. The issue of long wait-times was widespread, and it was discovered that officials were falsifying records to cover up the problem.
In U.S. history classes in the year 2100, students will learn about a man who transformed the U.S. healthcare system and cracked down on corruption on Wall Street; a man who broke with long-standing foreign policy tradition to re-connect with Cuba and Iran; a man who faced unprecedented obstruction in Congress but held his position with dignity and remained confident in his ability to effect change.
Obama was young and inexperienced when he entered office. No one questions that. In spite of his inexperience and a few mistakes, Obama’s eight years as President will not be lost to history, and Democrats (or whichever party will advocate liberalism in the future) will model their presidencies and political careers after that of Barack Obama for decades to come.