In light of the Inauguration only hours away, I have a list of things that should not stay unspoken. Barack and Michelle Obama have given this country, our country, everything a human being can possibly give to a cause and more.
I can remember back in 2008, the day when Obama won the election watching the news and seeing the elation of the crowd. I thought I knew what it meant to have a black president because that’s what everyone thought back then -“ wow, the first black president! We are actually making some progress!”. Considering I was only ten, when he took office, I had a certain kind of understanding -”I’m black. The president is black. this is so cool!” I couldn’t possibly comprehend what it meant to have a black president initially. To be honest, I can only Imagine what black people who have lived at least ten or twenty more years than I, felt. Those people who have experienced discrimination on a level that I have never dealt with. I think about those people who were closer to the times of segregation and who lived in it. Those people who couldn’t even imagine in their most superfluous dreams that having a black president was even possible. I imagine those people for the last 8 years saw that America is changing and that today it’s possible for the voices to be heard.
When Barack Obama was elected it was solely a triumph of race but that’s not what his presidency became. In President Obama’s first 100 days, he accomplished to pass the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This was a direct response to the Great Recession and its objective was to immediately save and create jobs, with a secondary objective to provide temporary relief programs for those who were the most affected. As well as, to invest in infrastructure, health, education and renewable energy. According to 82% of the top economists, this program decreased unemployment by the end of 2010 more than it would have without this stimulus. As well as passing the ARRA, Obama signed into law the extended children’s health insurance program (S-CHIP), the Ledbetter law that required equal pay for women, and won approval of Congress for the Congressional budget to made it official that Congress would have to deal with a health care reform legislation a.k.a Obamacare. In addition to those achievements, President Obama supported the United Nations Declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, although it remains open and lifted some travel bans and money restrictions on the island.
Even though Obama managed to do all these things in only a hundred days, he was quoted saying: “The first hundred days is going to be important, but it’s probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference.”
Well, Mr. Obama, what you did managed to accomplish in your first hundred days did make a difference and set precedent for your next 8 years in office.
Here are just 6 things that Obama made possible during his time as presidency:
1) Health Care Reform: By passing the Affordable Care Act of 2010, health insurance was given to 32 million uninsured Americans as well as mandating a suit of experimental measures to cut down on health care costs growth.
2) Ending the War in Iraq: As of December 18, 2011 all troops had left Iraq. Finally, ending the stream of countless lives that died there and bringing soldiers back to loved ones.
3) Taking out Osama Bin Laden: Back in 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Seal Team 6 killed Bin Laden, a top Al Qaeda member, who is responsible for the 9/11 attacks. As well as finding a number of Al Qaeda documents.
4) Repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”: In 2011, Obama ended the 90s era restriction, that disallowed LGBT individuals – specifically, gays bisexuals and lesbians – to openly serve in the armed forces.
5) Told Mubarak To Go “Shove It”: On February 1, 2011, President Obama called out President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt publicly, telling him to accept reform or to step down, which weakened the dictator’s position and put the US on the right side of the Arab Spring.
6) Created Conditions to Begin Closing the Dirtiest Power Plants: As of December 2011, new restrictions were made by the EPA on mercury and toxic pollution, which likely lead to the closing of between 68 and 231 of America’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. Known as Obama’s “stealth climate policy”, it brought estimated costs of utilities to $11 billion by 2016, an estimated $56 – $140 billion in health benefits, and significantly reduced carbon emissions.
First Lady Michelle Obama also deserves some recognition. She launched the Let’s Move! Campaign into 2010, which brought together educators, parents, and professionals to help in the cause to end childhood obesity. She passed a school lunch program with bipartisan support. This program reduced meal prices for over 21 million low-income children and required school to serve fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. The first lady also launched MyPlate and MiPlato, organizing a partnership with more than 6,100 Community groups, 100 National organizations, corporations and the USDA to give families across the country access to important nutritional information. In collaboration with the US Tennis Association, Michelle organized the construction and refurbishment of more than 6,200 kid sized tennis courts, signing up over 250,000 kids and bringing in 12,000 trainers to teach those children to play tennis.
Even Sasha and Malia Obama, contributed to their parents amazing legacy by donating their playset to the Jobs Have Priority Naylor Road Family Shelter, which children that live there can use for generations to come.
What started out as just a black thing or a minority thing turned into an incredible legacy. The Obamas inspired us to be better, to get up out of the Great Recession and work hard to achieve our American Dreams. They showed us what it was like to have a perfectly imperfect family in Washington. Whether it was the love that Barack and Michelle shared for each other, that we saw at every event when they are together or apart; whether it was the determination of President Obama to achieve equal rights for every member of our diverse country; whether it was Michelle, forever being one of the best, if not the best first lady we’ve ever had for having the best interest of our children at heart; the Obama’s as a whole inspired us. Regardless of your position on the left or the right side of the aisle, it is undeniable how much Barack, Michelle, Malia, and Sasha, sacrificed for us to be at this precipice today. I’m truly saddened that they must go, regardless of who will succeed them, because we should not degrade their legacy by comparing them with who will come next and with who came before. The Obamas should stand alone as one of the most selfless presidential families to ever take the White House. Finally, I must say thank you, for cultivating a culture in the United States that is worth living in, no matter how long it may last.