Why Obama Should Win: Based on His Record, Obama Deserves a Second Term in Office
“Yes we can” and “change we can believe in” could be considered the touchstones of President Obama's first campaign. Many critics used to express skepticism regarding Barack Obama’s ability to affect real change during his first run for the presidency. Supporters, on the other hand, expected Obama to do exactly what he promised to do. After four years in office, many critics and supporters alike seem to conclude that the president has failed to deliver on his promises.
However, a closer look at what he did in office belies this view. The president has amassed a strong record and delivered on many important promises notwithstanding the unprecedented level of opposition by Republicans. As the presidential election draws closer, voters will decide between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Based on his accomplishments, over the past four years President Obama has made a strong case for himself for a second presidential term.
After his eight years in office, George Walker Bush left his successor a country beset with a long list of problems. Each one of those problems has been more daunting than the last. Domestically, the economy was on the verge of another Great Depression. As a result of the Great Recession, the economy shed almost nine million jobs. For most Americans, their homes were the most valuable asset that they possess, but the financial crisis caused a staggering “six trillion dollar loss of housing wealth” and more than 20% of mortgages ended up underwater, with homeowners owing more than their houses were worth. Furthermore, as General Motors faced bankruptcy, the auto industry was in dire straits. The stock market fell to 6,594.44. The unemployment rate peaked at 10.1%.
Internationally, the situation was also bleak. The nation has been involved in two wars, which have been costly both in lives and treasures. In 2008, it was estimated that the war in Iraq would eventually cost the country $3 trillion. Over 4,000 soldiers had died in the war, and more than 30,000 were wounded. According to the Huffington Post, as many as 500,000 veterans returning from Iraq are likely to suffer from some ailments, ranging from traumatic brain injuries to depression, among many others. By 2008, the war in Afghanistanresulted in hundreds of deaths. The cost of that war has been running at $300 million a month. By the time Obama got elected, the Afghanistan war was almost in its seventh year, and its total cost was close to $1 trillion.
The financial crisis that has caused millions of Americans to lose their homes and their jobs was not an act of nature, but an act of man, More specifically, it was an act of the Bush administration. The economic collapse was triggered, in large measure, by policies that were put in place by former President George W. Bush. As Bush left office, he bequeathed to Obama a country that was in total freefall.
One would have expected that members of the party whose policies have left the country in such desolate situation not only would have engaged in some soul-searching but would have done their best to help the newly elected president to undo some of the damages that they have wrought. But rather than providing any assistance, Republicans set out to forestall Obama’s agenda on day one so that they could blame him for the failure to clean up their unprecedented mess.
In spite of their unyielding opposition, Obama passed a stimulus bill, which created millions of jobs. More importantly, the stimulus prevented the country from plunging into another Depression, and put the country on a path to recovery. The president engineered a bailout that not only revived a moribund auto industry, but catapulted General Motors to the top of the industry. There are also many signs that the housing market is recovering. After falling below the 7000 mark, the stock market has been roaring back. In fact, the stock market has been up more than 70% since it reached its nadir in early 2009. The unemployment rate dipped below 8% after 31 consecutive months of job growth in the private sector. Corporate profits are way up.
Taking into account what Obama faced in the beginning of his term, these aforementioned achievements are impressive. But there is much more to the president’s record.
For much of the country’s history, gays and lesbians have been fighting in the shadows. Since Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” these soldiers are no longer living in fear of their true identity being revealed. Furthermore, the president passed a student reform bill that will increase Pell Grants for low income students. Once they start working, students will be paying only 10% of their “disposable income.” In addition, they will not need to pay any debt left on their government loans after 20 years. For those who choose to work in the public sector, the government will forgive any debt left on their loans after 10 years. Most of all, ever since 1945, many presidents tried and failed to enact universal health care. Although Republicans vehemently opposed the Affordable Care Act, Obama passed a law that will provide health coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans.
The Bush administration’s failure on the foreign policy fronts rivaled what has transpired domestically. Despite borrowing trillions of dollars to finance two botched wars, Bush failed to capture the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, which ended with the death of thousands of Americans. With a relentless focus on al-Qaeda, the Obama administration has decimated the leadership of the terrorist group. More importantly, Obama managed to kill Osama bin Laden, which Bush could not do during his two terms in office. As he promised during his first campaign, the president also removed all the troops in Iraq ; by 2014, all combat troops will be leaving Afghanistan.
Against one of the most implacable opposition that any newly elected president ever faced, in a time of crisis no less, Obama’s list of achievements is simply remarkable.
Four years ago, there was a palpable fear that the country was on the brink of another economic depression. Four years ago, uninsured people with pre-existing conditions were being denied health insurance. Four years ago, gays and lesbians serving in the military feared that they would be kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Four years ago, children who grew up in the U.S. but who were undocumented immigrants were living in fear that they would be deported. Four years ago, bin Laden was still living in a mansion in Pakistan, continuing to publish videos even after murdering thousands of innocent Americans.
Yes, indeed — this is change that we “can believe in.”
It has often been said that if you want to know what someone could do or would do in the future, you should take a look at what he has done in the past. After assuming office in one of the most difficult periods in the country’s history, the president has succeeded in reviving the nation’s fortunes, while being obstructed by the opposing party at every turn. Based on the president’s substantial accomplishments, one should feel secured in the knowledge that the “past is prologue” when it comes to a second mandate.
Obama more than deserves a second term in office.