Obama has his faults, but he will go down as a president who impacted everyone around the world.
As the US president leaves office, journalists, publications and prominent figures are assessing Barack Obama’s legacy and achievements over the past eight years. We cling on to the values and principles he’s introduced to us, because it’s very likely that with the incoming president, these values and principles will be left at the door.
President Obama inherited a country on the brink of an unprecedented financial collapse, whilst unemployment had also reached a near historic high. The automobile industry was in the gutter, companies were declaring bankruptcy and, frankly, America’s reputation was at its worst. Obama, the country’s first black president, had to figure out a way to clean up the mess that was left by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Diplomacy was his strong suit—hope was what he sold to the American people and to those around the world. However, when he delivered his speech at Cairo University in June 2009, I found his rhetoric on foreign policy quite numbing and not much different to the Bush administration.
Obama fell short on my expectations and proved to have failed considerably when it came to the Syrian crisis and his stance on Russia and the Islamic State, otherwise known as Daesh. During his presidency, millions of Syrians were made homeless, and hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children were slaughtered by drones, bombs and terrorists. His biggest mistake was taking a back seat while watching as Syria burned from afar.
Moving one step forward and two steps back, Obama managed to pull US troops out of Iraq, a promise he kept to the American people. But the question remains: Did a premature withdrawal from Iraq help Daesh flourish? Many would argue yes, particularly Obama’s hard-line critics.
There is no denying that Obama’s internal policies changed the lives of millions of people. The fact is that Obama outperformed Ronald Reagan on economic growth and employment. According to Forbes, there were 78 consecutive months of economic expansion, which included private sector job growth and job creation. Not only did unemployment levels drop from 10.1% to 4.6%, but the US economy gained over 15 million new jobs.
Despite Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare—President Obama’s health insurance program has helped at least 18 million people across the US receive access to medical care. He is the first president to make combating climate change and protecting the environment at the cornerstone of his administration, and was able to decrease carbon emissions by 9%. He extended a diplomatic hand to Iran and Cuba and gained the respect of most nations across the globe.
His achievements are not only a testament to his capabilities, but to his reputation for being fair-minded and humble. It’s important to note that education and hard work was the cornerstone of his success. He didn’t have money, he didn’t have power and he didn’t have privilege growing up. He was your average man who utilized his gifts to earn him the most respected seat in the world.
This doesn’t mean Obama comes without fault. Although his eight years in office got America back on its feet and stabilized the economy, an increase in inequality and his weak foreign policy have handed the world an extreme and frightening alternative: Donald Trump.
The fact remains: Obama will go down as a president who impacted everyone across the globe. He entered office in 2009 and left in 2017 having pulled the most powerful country in the world from the brink of collapse. He embodied values like honesty, respect, love and decency—values many yearned for in a leader.
Now that President Obama has finished what he came in to do, we all hope that Trump magically changes his stance on minorities, immigrants, women and Muslims because, if he doesn’t, America could go back downhill starting from January 20, 2017.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
Photo Credit: BasSlabbers