As the nation begins to gear up for the upcoming presidential election, the presidency of Barack Obama is winding down. With seven years down and one to go, our 44th president’s accomplishments are pretty much set in stone.
So, how did the Obama administration do? Very well.
Obama managed to achieve much in an era when the divide between Republicans and Democrats has grown larger than perhaps ever before. This divide can be seen in his approval ratings.
According to the Pew Research Center, Obama’s approval rating among Republicans is only 14 percent. This is significantly lower than that of the nation’s last Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who, on average, had the support of 27 percent of Republicans.
It’s astounding that one of the most modern presidents is openly despised by half the nation. A Republican debate doesn’t go by without the candidates mocking and attacking Obama whenever they have a chance.
The truth is that Obama has done more for this country than Republicans will ever admit. At the beginning of his presidency, the nation was in the middle of the Great Recession, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate was 8.3 percent during Obama’s first month in office. He wasted no time pushing for the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which immediately helped get the economy back on track. According to the New York Times, the stimulus, on average, created or saved 1.6 million jobs per year over four years. The unemployment rate is currently at 5 percent.
And then there was the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Ever since it was signed into law in March 2010, Republicans have attacked it as a failure. In the most recent Republican debate, Ted Cruz called Obamacare “the biggest job-killer in this country.”
He claimed that it has cost the country millions of jobs. This is a blatant, misinformed lie.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the nation has added 13 million jobs since Obamacare passed and the unemployment rate has fallen by 4.9 percentage points.
Both the stimulus and Obamacare have been major successes and have helped to fix the nation’s struggling economy.
But that doesn’t matter to the 86 percent of Republicans who don’t support Obama. To them, he was a failure from the moment he stepped into the Oval Office.
Every move he has made, every word he has spoken, has been critiqued and decried by Republicans.
Obama may be the most underappreciated president in U.S. history.
How can it be that a leader who oversaw the killing of Osama Bin Laden, ended two wars, brought LGBTQ+ rights into the 21st century and helped keep guns off the streets is considered a failure?
Because Republicans and Democrats have never been further apart.
In modern history, a two-term candidate from one party is always replaced by a candidate from the other party.
So, starting January 2017, the many things Obama has done for the country will be swept under the rug by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio or, God help us, Donald Trump. But we cannot forget all that Obama has done for this nation.
Christian Simmons is a contributing columnist for the Central Florida Future.