Expressing Gratitude for Our 44th Leader
As a new political era begins, it’s time to give thanks to our current Commander.
By Lauren Grimaldi, Roosevelt University
The phrase “Thanks, Obama” is often used as a joke to show false appreciation toward the 44th president, but a sincere thank you to the current Commander-in-Chief is certainly in order.
Despite the many reasonable qualms with his time in the Oval Office, Obama’s administration has affected more positive changes than you may think.
Had President Obama not reached office, the country would be a different place. President McCain or President Romney would have assuredly done things their own way, and though things are far from perfect, the “Yes, We Can” promises of 2008 have led to a better America.
For starters, the current POTUS will forever be known for his healthcare policy, the Affordable Care Act. Dubbed “Obamacare” by critics, the ACA is decidedly imperfect. But it is a tiny step toward correcting a healthcare system that punishes low-income families. The president worked tirelessly to get his bill passed, and it was not easy. Then again, change never is. It took over a year for the former Illinois senator to finally see it become law, but even after that, there were still major struggles to face. Republicans have tried to repeal the ACA dozens of times, but to no avail.
Through all of the criticisms–both the inherently valid and incredibly ridiculous–the ACA has made an extreme difference in the American healthcare system. Since its passing in 2010, 16.4 million previously uninsured Americans have obtained healthcare. That figure alone is remarkable, and it would not have happened without an Obama presidency.
Likewise, one of the most ignored issues of modern day is climate change. Key GOP officials have entirely denied its existence, but Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have put it at the forefront of their respective campaigns. Its emergence as a major topic comes from its dire importance and from the special efforts made to combat it throughout President Obama’s administration.
Recently, the U.S., China and a number of other countries came to an agreement on the historic Paris climate change deal that will help eradicate the environmental problems facing the globe. The deal itself will mandate the hundreds of countries that agreed to cut emissions. President Obama worked closely with Chinese President Xi Jinping to make the deal happen, in hopes to change the world for the better. The two countries, which are the world’s largest emitters of carbon gas, will work together to lead to a better, safer world for all of its inhabitants.
“I believe that history will judge today’s efforts as pivotal,” President Obama said, shortly after the deal was made in early September. “Where there’s a will and there’s a vision, and where countries like China and the United States are prepared to show leadership and to lead by example, it is possible for us to create a world that is more secure, more prosperous and more free than the one that was left for us.”
In fact, historians and writers alike are already calling the deal an instrumental part of Obama’s legacy, some even arguing that the agreement will go down in history as the most significant accomplishment of his administration. No president has ever addressed the issue of climate change in this way, and it is fair to argue that no candidate who ran against Obama, or anyone who campaigned in 2016, would have been able to make it happen. Too many politicians refuse to take the world’s environment seriously, but the current Commander-in-Chief did everything he could to make it happen. His success is incredibly commendable, and the deal deserves more attention than it has previously received.
According to “The Guardian,” David Waskow, an international climate director at the World Resources Institute, said, “When the two largest emitters lock arms to solve climate change, that is when you know we are on the right track. Never before have these two countries worked so closely together to address a global challenge. There’s no question that this historic partnership on climate change will be one of the defining legacies of Obama’s presidency.”
Both the climate deal and the Affordable Care Act are just two of the many ways that U.S. policy has changed under Obama. He has also worked wonders in making the country more socially just.
Marriage equality passed under President Obama, a ruling that changed the lives of the LGBT community forever. Sure, there is much left for their movement to achieve, but the legal right to lawfully wed whomever they love is an outstanding moment in history. The days of the disgusting Defense of Marriage Act enacted under President Bill Clinton finally came to a close, and thus a new era toward better social equality for all people was ushered in.
President Obama also put an end to the ban on transgender military members and now allows for them to serve openly. This comes at a time when transgender people are being discriminated against for using the bathroom they feel most comfortable in, as well as other forms of prejudice, both dior and de facto. The president’s decision to end this ban is the right one, and one can only hope that the next president will be as forthcoming and accepting on these issues as the current POTUS has been.
Politicians promise that they will bring change during every campaign event. Over time, their message can become stale and is often left unfulfilled. But the “Change We Can Believe In” that Obama promised was political jargon that worked. It will be a sad adieu to the 44th president on January 20, 2017, but there is no doubt that his legacy will be significant. He inspired a generation of millennials to care about politics and to expect more from elected officials.
His charisma is incredibly remarkable, and what’s better is that he even seems like he’s a pretty cool guy. With multiple appearances on late night television, his great sense of humor is going to be missed. It’ll be interesting to see just how much he wishes to remain in public life after he leaves office, but the world will be worse off without his likable personality in it.
Though it’s time for someone new to become our president, the person that takes office surely has a tough act to follow.