Five years ago, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States of America. He arrived to the White House with great promise, important promises and hope that our nation would join his vision for a new path forward. A vision that was rooted in three core principles and values: compassion, generosity and tolerance. A path that led us out of two major wars and into an era of prosperity not just for the elite, but for the people. Five years later, his journey is certainly not complete, but his accomplishments are historic. His poll ratings might be low for the moment, and at first I was shocked to read his latest approval ratings, but I am confident that history will remember this man as one of the greats.
His opposition in Washington is unprecedented. The tenacity at which members from the opposite political party try to destroy his presidency and vote against the interests of their own constituents is mind-boggling. Yet, President Obama has been able to fight off the ideologues of demise and push forth his agenda to help all Americans, regardless of the zip-code that is at the end of their addresses. I worried that the train carrying the disparity between the rich and the poor was moving too fast for anyone to stop it, but President Obama has done everything he could to slow it down. I would be untruthful if I didn't mention that I had my doubts initially that Mr. Obama would be co-opted by the corporations, the lobbyists and those that have run Washington for decades. However, I have been proud of the way this President has chartered his own course, navigating through very treacherous waters and often times going alone. Just this week, I was inspired by the President's strong statement he made when granting clemency to eight non-violent drug offenders, showing a way for Congress to follow his lead and change the unjust laws that have been on the books for far too long.
History will judge this President not just for being the first black President, but for being the President that began our nation's course towards a more progressive union. He reminded us that this is just the beginning during that cold night in Chicago back in November of 2008, when he said "This victory alone is not the change we seek -- it is only the chance for us to make that change." And change he has made. No one is going back on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. No one is going back on equal pay for women. No one is going back on sentencing and prison reform. No one is going back on ending DOMA. No one is going back on creating a pathway to work for hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people. No one is going back on making college more affordable. No one is going back on creating new relationships with "enemies" of our past. No one is going back on promoting tolerance around the world by sending openly gay athletes in the official delegation to the 2014 Winter Olympics. And certainly no one is going back on creating a system where healthcare is affordable for all.
As we head into 2014, we know there is much more work to be done. There is immigration reform to pass and a climate bill to vote on. There is prison sentencing reform to enhance and a drug war to end. There is a minimum wage to increase and there is gun control reform that must be passed. This is just the shortlist of what this country can accomplish if Congress is willing to do what they were voted to do, represent the people, not the ones who are lining their pockets with dirty money. The President is ready to work with anyone who is willing to put the people first. He will remembered as the one who never gave up on the American people, the one who challenged us to be more accepting of each other's differences and the one who always hoped that we all would work towards a more perfect union as the UNITED States of America. We may not reach the finish line by the end of Mr. Obama's second term, but we the people, will join his efforts, raising hell like Run-DMC, fighting with every ounce of energy we got, to get damn close!
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