How eight years have flown by.
It seems like yesterday a young (and noticeably darker haired) Barack Obama swore-in as the 44th President of the United States. On that cold, Tuesday afternoon in January, the nation brimmed with excitement over its new president. Obama had won the hearts of many across the nation during the 2008 Presidential Election season, appealing to young folks, and promising to give the nation change after the events of the past years. He became a beacon of hope for African-Americans and minorities everywhere, as he finally broke down the race wall and became the first black president. After a harsh economic crisis, America seemed like it was back on its feet again with Obama at the helm.
And yet, here America stands, eight years later. As Obama prepares to leave office, America finds itself in a similar position as it was eight years ago: in desperate need of hope.
As Donald Trump gets ready to be sworn in, the nation is clearly divided. And while the divide itself is not Obama’s fault, he is certainly responsible for the election of Donald Trump, who is the direct cause of the divide.
There is no question that the nation had its doubts with Hillary Clinton. The use of a private email server haunted her throughout the election, as questions about her honesty plagued her up to the very last days of the campaign season. But there is also no question that the nation had even bigger doubts about Donald Trump, a man with no real political experience, who was also involved in many controversies throughout his campaign.
So, when people question how Donald Trump got elected, the answer is simple: Barack Obama failed to be the change and hope that he promised America he would be.
If Obama really had done such a good job, then Hillary Clinton would be the one getting ready to be the 45th president in a month’s time. It’s quite clear. Americans were tired of Obama and the Democratic Party’s policies, and felt that change needed to be imminent, even if it meant picking such a polarizing, inexperienced figure over an experienced politician. Voting Clinton meant voting for an Obama extension, and clearly voters were not in the mood for four more years of Obama.
But where did Obama go wrong?
One thing is for certain. Foreign policy plagued Barack Obama throughout his presidency-even during high moments, such as Osama Bin Laden’s death. From the infamous “red-line drawing” with Syria to the comments about ISIS being a “JV squad”, Obama’s foreign policy plans became increasingly feckless and doubtful. Many will point to ISIS as Obama’s biggest issue, and how Obama’s rash decision to take out troops from Iraq in a time of relative stability caused the extremist group to form.
But undoubtedly the foreign policy issue that troubled Obama the most was Syria, as the civil war grew increasingly worse throughout his later presidential years. As the conflict in Aleppo has reached a point of no return, Obama will for sure be left to ponder over his choice to not use military force.
Aside from his foreign policy blunders, Obama has overseen a large racial divide in the United States. From the numerous “police brutality” incidents to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the nation seems as divided as ever over the issue of race, despite being under a president who was deemed a “race unifier”.
The deaths of five police officers in the infamous Dallas shooting that occurred in July of 2016, along with a polarizing speech Obama delivered in which he seemed to antagonize the police, added to the notion that Obama was fueling a race divide, and that he didn’t support the cops.
And finally, there is Obama’s signature piece, the Affordable Care Act. While Obama and his numerous supporters will speak of the millions of Americans who are now covered by health insurance, many disparagers will speak on the volatile and rising premiums and costs that Obamacare has brought on. The words “if you like the doctor you have, you can keep your doctor” have since become an example of Obama’s lies over his new healthcare plan.
As Trump, and a fully backed Republican House and Senate, look to dismantle Obamacare, Barack Obama has done much to ensure that a critical part of his legacy is not eviscerated.
Where Barack Obama ranks among the presidents all-time will be left up to the people. Despite seeming unpopularity, Obama currently holds a 53.7 % approval rating (12/22/16, RCP average) which is among the highest he’s had in three years. With relatively high numbers, it is hard to say that Obama failed to do his job, as a majority of people still approve of his presidency.
It is difficult to say what Barack Hussein Obama will be remembered for. Supporters will look to things that weren’t touched upon in this article, such as an improved economy, a low unemployment rate, and the passing of gay marriage. Critics will state Obama’s fecklessness in foreign policy, influence in the racial divide, and a confusing and unpredictable healthcare plan.
One thing is for certain though: everyone will remember the hope and inspiration he once gave this nation, eight years ago.