By Tyler Perez
For all intents and purposes Barack Obama will always be my president. While I, a young teenager, was simply just trying to grow up and discover my own place in this world, he was someone I could look up to. Through his compassion for others and through his fortitude in the wake of tenacious opposition, Obama was the epitome of what it meant to be presidential– inside or outside the Oval Office.
The 44th president began his term faced with repugnant opposition aiming to delegitimize his presidency by questioning his place of birth. Instead of having our guns taken away and establishing a quasi-communist authoritarian state as his detractors feared, we were given an America that is both categorically and quantitatively better off than it was eight years ago.
The new president is stepping into a country that possesses a prosperous and thriving economy, and one that shares little to no resemblance of the crumbling one Obama faced when he took office. It would be misguided to say that Obama was the sole catalyst in the recovery during the wake of the Great Recession. However, there is no doubt that the specific policies put forward the Obama administration during his first year had a far reaching impact on the economic landscape of the country.
Despite over 60% of the country adversely disagreeing with a proposed automobile bailout, he did what was best for the country. The industry was on track to lose over seven million jobs. The auto industry was turned into a pocket of strength for the economic recovery, and according to the National Bureau of Economic Research it accounted for 25% of the recovery gains in manufacturing. GM and Chrysler returned to profitability just one year after the package. Yes the package, which has nearly all been paid off, was expensive; however, the impact of an estimated 3 million jobs saved, can not be overlooked.
Seven years after facing the greatest economic obstacle since the Great Depression, our economy is facing the longest stretch of job growth in the country’s history, with a 15.6 million private sector jobs being added in the past 81 months. This is all according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This economy is an imperfect one still facing serious issues, however, it is one that CNBC called “the biggest parting gift to the next president.”
The economic impact of Obama’s presidency was far reaching and beneficial, however it pales in comparison to his record on social policy. After eight years of social progress, Obama’s social policies may have been the most impactful since Lyndon B Johnson’s “Great Society.”
The social landscape of America has never been more tolerant or full of progress. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 20 million people have gained health insurance. For the first time in this country’s proud history, more than 90% of Americans now have health insurance. It is true the ACA somewhat violated insurance company’s freedoms, however, it expanded freedom for the common American. It allowed Americans to buy affordable health insurance even with pre-existing conditions, which was not possible before.
Obama also was crucial in victory of the basic human right, which is to love who you want to love. He became the first president to openly support gay marriage, and appointed Pro-LGBT supreme court judges, who were crucial in the Obergefell v. Hodges court ruling. He also passed numerous executive actions preventing discrimination and violence against people solely based on their sexual orientation.
Obama’s ability not to back down on the clear and present danger that man made climate change presents, is his accomplishment which will stand the test of the time. One that will allow our kids and their kids to participate in not only the American dream, but a global world to believe in. Fast tracking and being at the helm of the Paris Climate agreement is one of the best known environmental accomplishments of his eight years in office, which was accomplished through limiting carbon pollution from plants, rejecting the keystone XL pipeline, promoting a fuel-efficiency standard of 54.5 MPG, banning offshore drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, and much more. The country and the world will be a much better place in no large part due to Barack Obama.
And that is why, I can say without hesitations, thanks Obama, for giving me a country to believe in and one to be proud of.