In 2008, the United States witnessed the people take its government back from ideological tyranny, greed, and anti-intellectualism. The election of President Barack Obama was a worldwide event — a signal to the world that America, at last, had overcome it’s last taboo (at least publicly), race. Graveyards all over America with generations of three centuries of racialized pasts either roared, “Finally,” or rolled over in amazement that this could happen here of all places.
One year later, the nation is a lot more sober with the reality of what change really is, and what was necessary to bring change about. The most amazing thing about the past year is the short memories everybody seems to have about how bad things really were. People seem to have forgotten that the economy was in a free fall, two misguided wars were draining the U.S. treasury ,and we had little goodwill to be found anywhere around the globe.
All guns were pointed at us with no calvary in sight. Everybody thought Barack Obama was the better candidate. Everybody agreed that Barack Obama should be elected President. But NOBODY was going to call it, bet the farm on it, or even say it, above a whisper, that Barack Obama would be the next President — until they saw it with their own eyes. The reality of the America’s situation, however, is that no matter who was elected President, the country was in trouble. And that’s exactly how it’s gone down.
The ignorant (who are not really ignorant, just still mad), the foolish, and the partisans all want to suggest that President Obama hasn’t done anything in the 10 months since he’s been President. They even want to blame the outcomes of this month’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey as a referendum on the job Obama is doing. Like things were just going to turn around because Barack showed up. It’s simple-minded and disingenuous to suggest nothing has been done. So, let’s look at (at least) ten things President Obama managed to achieve within his first year:
- Ten: President Obama has slowed down the recession. Nobody is talking depression anymore, and some are talking recovery. Trying to catch this economy from crashing was like trying to catch a 100 ton boulder dropped off a 70-story building. The inertia alone is going to push you backwards until you can slow the force. Most wouldn’t even step in front of a boulder coming at them like this. Obama stepped in the gap and stuck to a measured recovery plan of stimulus dollars and labor force transition.
- Nine: President Obama saved Wall Street. And Wall Street tried to punk him by paying itself first. He exposed the absence of regulatory oversight on Wall Street, and economic and financial investment reform is being discussed like never before.
- Eight: President Obama saved the collapse of the American automotive industry. By making GM restructure before bailing them out, and putting incentive money to help the industry, he saved the industry. People want to make jokes about “cash for clunkers” but the automakers aren’t laughing. They’re thanking him.
- Seven: President Obama shifted the focus of the war from Iraq to Afghanistan, and putting the emphasis on reducing terrorism where it should have been all along-but now they want to say he’s making war, not peace. Well, at least he didn’t destabilize a whole region on a false premise. It’s better than what we had.
- Six: President Obama relaxed Anti-American tensions throughout the world. This was more serious than the previous administration was willing to let on. The President made good on his promise to make a major address on American-Muslim relations and he did it in a Muslim country, showing a good faith that America hadn’t shown in a while.
- Five: President Obama closed the prisoner “torture camp” at Guantanamo Bay. Holding prisoners for eight years without charging them was acceptable under the previous administration. It is not acceptable under this administration. Obama’s next challenge is what to do with the detainees.
- Four: President Obama has made the environment a national priority, and a primary source for job creation. The era of polluting industrialists is over, and with a President that understands the benefits of green conversion, America can become a leader in the industry of the future.
- Three: President Obama has made education a national priority by putting emphasis and money behind new ideas like charter schools, but speaking directly to school children in telling them they have to do their part. It’s what any President should be encouraging but Obama’s so popular, he was accused of trying to “socialize” or “proselytize” the children. It’s a sad day when the President of the United States can’t speak to school children because their parent’s views conflict.
- Two: President Obama is on the verge of passing universal health care, with a public option, to insure everybody in America has care when they are sick. He’s doing it, despite vilification of ideologues and while in the midst of an H1N1 epidemic where millions could get sick this winter. The people feel him on this.
- One: President Obama has restored credibility to the American Presidency where the world is looking to him to lead America out of unilateralism and back into multilateral global cooperation. The Nobel Peace Prize was an acknowledgment that Obama had led and is leading a non-violent cultural revolution in America. Everybody, except for a few in America, can see the change. Still, the world understands what happened one year ago, and they thought they’d never see such a shift occur. The election of Obama helped the world see the light that America wasn’t ready to self-destruct.
Not bad, for less than a year in office. People need to stop complaining that he hasn’t done enough. Obama was elected President. He wasn’t elected Jesus. Like Al Sharpton said on Meet The Press, “we now realize that Obama doesn’t walk on water, but he’s still the fastest swimmer in America.”