After serving our nation diligently for the past eight years, President Barack Obama bid the nation farewell Tuesday night. No president ever has a perfect record in office, however Obama’s term fulfilled many of the promises he made on the campaign trail so many years ago.
His approval rating is currently at 55 percent and despite the many controversies surrounding multiple aspects of his platform, his policies and beliefs allowed 20 million U.S. citizens to obtain health insurance, reversed the Great Recession, opened up trade with Cuba and saw the protection of marriage equality across the board.
His eight years in office were not without missteps, he has failed to pass comprehensive gun control despite many mass shootings under his presidency, Libya should never have been invaded, not to mention the Affordable Care Act, which is by no means perfect and is still unaffordable for many Americans.
Our lack of action toward Syrian refugees has caused many not only within our nation but across the world to judge our isolation technique and immigration reform, a major and necessary component of Obama’s platform, is still in major need of revision.
However, his legacy will undoubtedly be that he was a man who lifted our country out from an economic crisis, worked on bringing our troops home from a decade long war and successfully terminated Osama bin Laden.
He will forever go down as the president who made our country reflect. Under his leadership race-relations have been re-examined and major flaws, which for decades had been ignored, came to light sparking movements across the nation. Police brutality came under scrutiny and minority issues came to the forefront of the last presidential campaign.
We, as a nation, examined the outdated and oppressive laws restricting marriage to heterosexual couples only and realized it was time for change. We then stood by our Supreme Court’s decision by ostracizing hateful mindsets like that held by Kentucky clerk Kim Davis and by cutting off financial means toward oppressive government like those formerly held by North Carolina’s prior governor Pat McCrory.
Obama symbolized tolerance, hope, acceptance and love and taught this nation how to analyze the legitimacy and morality of practices we had accepted for years as tradition. LGBT rights are still threatened in many areas of this nation and racial tensions are far from healed, but they are no longer being ignored.
“I am asking you to believe,” Obama said. “Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours. I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written: Yes, we can. Yes, we did.”
Obama led our nation through a recession without once losing hope in a better tomorrow. His optimism was contagious and bled over into America’s view of a multitude of issues ranging from the economy to foreign affairs.
We live in a disquieting era yet the future never seemed utterly doomed with a leader who shouldered each tragedy with grim determination to make it through the otherside. No, the path toward a prospering tomorrow will not be easy, but we survived a decade-long war and a crippling recession under Obama’s presidency and have hope that betterment is an actual possibility.
So with full sincerity and gratitude, thanks Obama.
You will be missed.
Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications.