No president is perfect. Every president has issues that he must contend with that are serious and define his legacy. Clinton had the economy, Bush had 9/11 and the War on Terror, and the Great Recession.
President Obama inherited the War on Terror, the worst recession since the 1930s. He had to contend with a collapsing auto industry, banking sector, the rise of ISIL, domestic terrorism, civil war in Syria, the worst refugee crisis since WWII, Ebola in West Africa, and much, much more.
No one can say that Barack Obama had it easy these eight years.
Barack Obama’s legacy must not be defined by his successor. President Obama accomplished an exceptional amount during the life of his administration. He leaves the White House with 55% approval rating, which is no coincidence.
Besides the obvious accomplishment of being the first African-American President, he oversaw many, many initiatives that deserve mentioning following his farewell address this evening:
Over the last eight years, we saw progress in the economy, with record-long economic growth, job growth, and wage growth.
20 million more Americans have health insurance, and rates are rising at a slower rate than at any time in the last 50 years.
Osama bin Laden is dead, al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Iraq is nearly completely gone, and they are facing a global coalition in places like Yemen and Libya.
ISIL has seen most of its leadership killed and half of its once mighty “caliphate” recaptured and towns and cities liberated.
The United States has ended its hostile relationship with Cuba, paving the way for an opening of trade, travel and culture. Both peoples will be better off because of it.
LGBTQ Americans can marry whoever they want, in all 50 states and territories.
Illegal immigration at the Southern Border is down to its lowest levels in 30 years, all with better border security, relations with Mexico and Central American partners, and an attitude that is not hostile or prejudiced.
More American firms are trading in the global economy than ever before, and trade barriers have been reduced in much of the world economy as a result of trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. He entered into trade negotiations with the EU and Pacific Rim countries in the form of TTIP and TPP, but was unable to ratify the agreements due to Republican opposition.
The United States has more than halved its dependence on foreign energy sources, invested in renewables twice as much as before 2008, and signed on to an agreement along with 191 other nations that will commit to curbing emissions and ending our reliance on fossil fuels in a truly global effort. China signed it. China.
Our friends and allies respect us because we don’t tell them what to do. We ask them to join us.
Even though a pay gap exists, it’s smaller than ever before in our nation’s history. More progress needs to be made on gender equality, but Barack Obama made the issue an early priority.
More Americans are attending higher education institutions than ever before, and the federal government is providing more assistance to make it affordable, including community college and trade schools.
More lands have been designated protected reserves and national parks in the previous eight years than in the 20 years prior, including the largest ecologically protected area on the planet in Hawaii- Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument which measures 582,578 square miles of land and sea in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. His commitment to the environment is unmatched by any President.
He opened the United States to refugees from the Syrian conflict and committed billions of dollars in aid to the humanitarian effort in the region.
He and Secretary of State John Kerry forged the Iran Deal, eliminating the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear weapon’s program without a war or hostilities of any kind.
He appointed two Supreme Court Justices, including the first Latina-American Associate Justice in history.
He managed to cut the deficit and ensure the middle class earned tax credits whilst the wealthiest Americans paid their fair share towards the country that made them so wealthy to begin with.
President Obama was able to do all of this with a Republican Congress for six years who were out to oppose him at every turn.
This is not a complete and exhaustive list, of course, of the achievements of the Obama Administration. However, this list, incomplete though it is, should paint a clearer picture of what Barack Obama accomplished in his eight years as President. His legacy should be defined as having achieved these feats, not least because of the deep political divisions that have taken hold since his election.
But even though Donald Trump succeeds Barack Obama, one needn’t declare the Democrat’s failure to capitalize on his success and popularity as his legacy. Instead, let’s take account of all the governing he did. All of the policy goals achieved, the benefits to our people they have provided, and the lasting impact of economic, social, environmental, and security changes will have on our country.
America is better and stronger because of Barack Obama and his team. Thanks, 44.