By Kaci Schneidawind
On the night of Tuesday Nov. 8, 2008, the free world changed forever.
This historic night saw the election of America’s first African-American president, Barack Hussein Obama. His victory was just the beginning of a presidency that would be defined by progressive– sometimes controversial– agendas and actions.
President Obama entered office during one of the greatest economic recessions in American history. The collapse of the housing market warned of a coming second Great Depression if nothing was done and done quickly.
In February of 2009, Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a stimulus package which aided the economy’s recovery.
In the following months, he bailed out the failing auto industry, particularly General Motors which had gone into bankruptcy, and signed the Affordable Care Act–often dubbed “Obamacare”–into law. Within just hundreds of days of his inauguration, President Obama saved countless lives and jobs.
Obama also became the first president to publicly voice his support for Americans of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a military policy implemented by Bill Clinton which prohibited gay men and women from serving in the military.
Obama once again was an ally when he announced that he believed same-sex couples should be able to marry. This came to fruition when the Supreme Court ruled in June 2015 that same-sex marriage was a right for all Americans and was not an issue for individual states to decide upon.
Obama was not just a champion for social justice, but was an environmentalist as well. He consistently urged Congress to act on climate change and recognize its real and serious effects on our planet.
His administration proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions and slow down global warming. The most successful resolution for this problem came in late 2015 when nearly 200 representatives from the United Nations met to discuss solutions. They put forth the Paris Agreement, the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement. It was called “a historic turning point” in the reduction of global warming by France’s foreign minister.
Obama’s actions were not all without controversy, however. Many Americans, including myself, have not been entirely in agreement with some of his foreign policy decisions.
These include many drone strikes commanded by the president to show aggression toward the Middle East. Those strikes are often bound to be destructive because they take innocent lives of children and families who have no involvement with our enemies, but live within the area of the strike.
This is similar to what I think is one of the most important and least remembered events of Obama’s turn as commander-in-chief–the killing of Al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden. The operation was done in secret and announced to the country once it had been successfully executed.
Some citizens were concerned that Obama would order such a risky and covert mission that could have resulted in more war or terrorist attacks on the United States if just one thing had gone wrong. It was also nearly impossible to ensure that the compound was bin Laden’s.
But, even with his flaws, Obama has been a president who truly cares about and wants the best for the people he serves. I will be forever grateful for the ways he improved the country and even the world and have some level of fear that our next leader will reverse all the progress and change the previous president had accomplished.
While I know this may not happen, it can be expected that Donald Trump’s policies will differ greatly from Obama’s and that he will try to put his own ideologies into place. This is inevitable, but I do hope that Trump preserves the core of Obama’s initiatives–that everything he did was done with the future of America in his heart and on his mind.
For all of our sakes, I wish Trump nothing but success during his turn in the highest office in the land. And, one last time, for all that you’ve done: Thanks, Obama.
Sources: Wikipedia and The New York Times