President Barack Obama has faced unprecedented obstruction during his presidency. He entered office in 2008 in the midst of an economic recessions and would continue to face political opposition for the next eight years in nearly every measure he proposed or issues he tried to address.
Love him or hate him, it is difficult to deny that President Obama will leave a monumental mark on human history, from taking out a nefarious terrorist organization leader to managing to pass a health care reform to put the U.S. on par in coverage with other majorly developed nations around the world. And despite the perpetual criticism, President Obama can be credited with, as of right now, leaving us in a state of incredible job growth, lower health spending despite record-low rates of uninsured U.S. adults. Apart from pointing out that climate change is the “[greatest] threat to future generations,” President Obama has also been able to reach an agreement with China that marked the country’s very first carbon emissions regulation. And of course, after being the first sitting President of the United States to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, was also credited with significantly aiding in the cementing of the nationally recognized ruling of allowing same-sex couples the constitutional right to marry. After this laundry list of accomplishments in just the last seven years, one can only begin to wonder what sort of legacy President Obama will ultimately leave.
President Obama is currently in, and please excuse the term as I mean no disrespect to aquatic avian creatures, “lame duck” session, the final time period of an elected official’s term. This time period becomes an indicator of an elected official’s intentions and passions, given that the official no longer needs to obsess over an upcoming election, thereby allowing them to make decisions as they may desire. As such, President Obama has decided to seize this final opportunity to, as contemporary music legend Taylor Swift sang, “go out in style.”
Despite all that President Obama has been able to tackle, he does admit that note all of his efforts were completely successful, citing, for instance, the lack of new gun regulations passed as his “biggest frustration.” However, the incumbent president became the first sitting U.S. President to visit a federal prison, a monumental step, albeit one that’s been long overdue, in at least acknowledging the importance of a mass prison reform and highlighting America’s prison-industrial complex. Not only did President Obama visit a federal prison, but was able to strike a blow to an outdated system by commuting the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders.
To top that off, President Obama was able to recently reach a treaty with Iran to prevent the development of a nuclear weapon for the next couple of years. This, unsurprisingly, released all sorts of vicious attacks, with one of the most notable being from a 2016 presidential candidate who referred to Obama’s agreement as “idiotic” and further stated that “by doing so [Obama] will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.” Deviating from his normally calm dismissal of political criticism, President Obama responded to Huckabee’s comments as being both “sad” and “ridiculous.” But he didn’t stop there. He proceeded to call out the likes of Donald Trump’s recent comments as well as Senator Tom Cotton’s remarking of John Kerry having “acted like Pontius Pilate.”
After these sweeping headlines, President Obama found himself in front of the African Union, being the first sitting U.S. President to do so. While there, he managed to talk about the necessity of redefining structural dynamics by stating, “Nobody should be president for life. Your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas. I’m still a pretty young man, but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country.” During his trip, he also spoke to the President of Kenya about a sensitive topic, one that he was strongly discouraged from doing during his visit. Standing in a country where sexual activity between men is illegal, carrying a punishment of up to 14 years in prison, President Obama boldly stated to the Kenyan President, “When you start treating people differently not because of any harm they are doing to anybody, but because they are different, that’s the path whereby freedoms begin to erode.” Who else could the president vouch for? After working through many of humanity’s discouraged and often ignored, the president finally turned to another species as well recently. To top off his trip to Kenya, President Obama also announced significant bans to U.S. ivory trade in an effort to protect endangered African elephants who are often the victims of poachers.
Venturing away from his usual modestly, President Obama recently did manage to consider himself to be a “good president,” also adding that he believes he would be able to win a third term if he were allowed to run once again for president. Of course, we’ll never know if this would happen; however, multiple sources have speculated that it is actually conceivable that President Obama would win a third term if he were allowed to run.
Love him or hate him, he’s made a difference. People will quibble for decades to come whether these sweeping decisions were for better or worse, and in some cases, it won’t be possible to know until the effects withstand the trial of time. One thing is for certain, though. President Obama campaigned for one thing, and like an obedient chef, he has delivered exactly what the American people had ordered in 2008 and again in 2012: change.
This article was written by Amar Ojha, founder and writer at dusk magazine.