Photograph: Getty Images
In 2008, we elected Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. He ran a campaign based on the promise of hope and change in the midst of a recession when many American families felt hopeless with a “Yes We Can” attitude. For the next eight years, President Obama faced many obstacles and roadblocks from Republicans refusing to work with his administration, gun violence, and civil strife. Despite the many challenges, the president was successful in accomplishing his goal of bringing hope and change to America.
September 11, 2001 is an unforgettable date for all Americans when two planes that were hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists crashed into the Twin Towers, taking nearly 3,000 American lives. For almost ten years, Osama bin Laden, 9/11 mastermind, was at large. After investigation and surveillance, on April 29, 2011, Obama gave the order to raid bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Two dozen Navy SEALs entered the compound and executed bin Laden, with Obama and his advisors watching closely through a video feed. President Obama’s operation that killed Osama bin Laden help grieving family seek closure for the terror they faced in 2001.
On Friday, June 25, 2016, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal in a 5-4 vote. Millions, not only in the U.S. but also around the world, celebrated this historic day. People celebrated the decision by entering the court plaza with rainbow flags and signs proclaiming that “love has won.” President Obama welcomed the ruling, saying that “When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.”
President Obama’s actions against racial injustice in his presidency was historic. In addition to being the first African-American president of the United States, President Obama acknowledged and worked for racial equality. His presidency was plagued with protests of police brutality against people of color in cities across the country, sparking the #BlackLivesMatter movement. After the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in 2016, Obama said, “These are not isolated incidents. They’re symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.” The outrage against police shootings led to numerous acts of violence, but President Obama did not let these issues fall through the cracks. He has acknowledged the gaps in our society that most did not realize still existed. While it is argued that no progress was truly made, being aware of an issue is the first step to finding a solution.
Currently an intense subject in the U.S. Congress, President Obama created Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare offers a less expensive, higher coverage healthcare plan for Americans, regardless of their health status or gender. The Affordable Care Act has many benefits including coverage despite a pre-existing condition, improvement to women’s health services at a decreased cost, and expanded Medicaid eligibility to millions of Americans under the poverty line. More than 20 million additional adults and 3 million additional children now have health insurance due to the Affordable Care Act, ultimately making the uninsured rate the lowest it has ever been.
NASA and NOAA, two leading U.S. science agencies, have ruled 2016 as the hottest year on record. The average temperature was 58.69 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. President Obama has made numerous efforts to halt climate change and preserve American wilderness. The Clean Power Plan created in 2015 was created by Obama to set regulations on carbon emissions and push for more renewable energy sources. While many Republicans have viewed his act to fight against climate change as an attempt to destroy the coal industry, the Clean Power Plan is being reviewed in the Supreme Court and can eventually set regulations against harmful substances that propel climate change. In his final days as president, Obama also revoked the 1953 Lands Act to protect nearly 125 million acres in the Arctic from oil and gas development.
This is just a small amount of the wonderful things that Obama has done as our president. He became the leader of our nation at a time when there was little hope and was able to inspire change. In the next four years, the legacy of our 44th president will be threatened, as Trump intends to undo almost all change that Obama has made. Luckily, President Obama has left us with one last gift to encourage activism and inspire hope. Last Friday, Obama released a link to the website of the Obama Foundation, organized to develop leadership in the upcoming generations and create non-profits that will continue to affect our world positively. Despite leaving the White House, President Obama’s true legacy, hope and change in a time that seems hopeless, will last forever in the hearts of his supporters.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”