Op-Ed Duel: Obama's Nation or Abomination?




Despite being one of the most criticized presidents in history, Barack Obama can also join the list of the greatest presidents in history along with John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 2008, when Obama was elected, we were facing a recession, massive job loss, a foreclosure crisis, and a war thanks to our previous president.

George W. Bush started a war on terror that he had no plans to pay for. According to the Washington Post, taxpayers have spent $4-6 trillion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.

During his presidential campaign, Barack promised to pull the troops out of Iraq. On December 18, 2011, he did just that, and the finals troops left Iraq.

Speculations around how large the national deficit has grown is concerning a lot of Americans, but people commonly get the deficit confused with the national debt. The national debt is how much our government currently owes, where as our national deficit is the difference in how much our government spends and brings in each fiscal year.

The Clinton administration left office in 2001 with a $236 billion surplus which was quickly squandered by the Bush administration. Bush implemented tax cuts that were meant to encourage people to spend more, which leads to higher demand, which leads to jobs.

It all sounded good in theory. However, just 10 years after the first tax cuts were implemented 2.4 million jobs were lost,  and from 2001 to 2007 employment wages fell by 2.3 percent. The only winners in that situation were the top 1 percent who received 65 percent of the tax cut gains, according to Economic Populist.

The tax cuts added $2.6 trillion to the deficit which has to be paid with interest. In order for us to pay off our debt, taxes will have to be raised sooner or later or we are likely to end up penniless like Greece. Obama has since cut our deficit from $1.4 trillion to $486 billion, according to Politifact.

Although many republicans and media outlets try to denounce Obamacare, it has helped 30 million plus Americans who wouldn’t otherwise have insurance.

Upon taking office, unemployment was on the rise due to the 2008 financial crisis that struck America. Job loss began to increase and unemployment peaked in 2009 at 10 percent but has since dropped to 5 percent, the lowest since February of 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to CNN, during his presidency Obama has created 9.3 Million jobs in the healthcare, food service, temp help, retail, childcare, and social worker industries, compared to Bush’s 5.7 million jobs created.

Although many republicans and media outlets try to denounce Obamacare, it has helped 30 million plus Americans who wouldn’t otherwise have insurance.

Media outlets like FOX News have taken advantage of the politically challenged and attempted to blame the president for the rising costs under the Affordable Care Act. In reality, it is the healthcare companies within the marketplace pulling out which is causing premiums to go up due to the decrease in competition.

While the Republican presidential nominee promises to repeal and replace Obamacare, he has failed to explain what he will replace it with. Repealing it could mean higher premiums for women than men, removing coverage for most if not all people with pre-existing conditions, enabling lifetime limits, and adults under 26 on their parents healthcare plan losing coverage. Much of this could lead to a very morbid future.

The Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton however has expressed that she would not repeal and instead reform the Affordable Healthcare Act to include the public option and bring down costs of prescription drugs.

President Obama inherited a failing war, broken economy, high unemployment rates, and a massive health care crisis but overcame. David vs. Goliath has been the synopsis of his presidency, fighting with a Republican controlled Congress that does everything in its power to stymie his efforts.

Furthermore, there are only 14 people under the age of 50 currently on Senate and 44 over the age the 65. People 65 years of age and older only account for 14.4 percent of the population, but 44 percent of the Senate, which is preposterous. They have made it difficult for Obama to enact any real change when they are so out of touch with the base that supported Obama in the first place.

The United States of America’s legal system is much more than the President. It’s the Senate, the House of Representatives, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts, as well as the state governments. Maybe if people were more involved in voting most of our current problems would be resolved.

Obama has weathered oblique allegations about his character, religion, and even his nationality. Through all the adversity he has overcome and brought affordable healthcare to Americans, increased our gross domestic product growth rate from -2.8 percent to 2.2 percent, overseen a decrease in foreclosure rates, and ended the war in Iraq.

But he is not Martin Luther King Jr. and can’t do these things by himself. It’s our job as citizens to further the change that our president has made possible.


It all started with one word.

Hope was the mantra of 2008 and captured the zeitgeist of the time. We gave that hope a face, and it was Barack Obama. Now eight years later and we have an almost lame duck and seem to be completely devoid of that hope.

Obama was the embodiment of American hope, especially for the millennial generation just coming of age to vote. According to the Pew Research Center, 66 percent of voters age 18-30 voted for Obama in 2008 and 67 percent in 2012, which was a deciding factor in the landslide over John McCain and decisive win against Mitt Romney.

As Americans, we were embroiled in a quagmire sending our soldiers home mangled and mentally tortured all while bankers had all but ruined the economy back at home. With Obama, we had something to look forward to.

America felt like was on its way to progress, electing the first African American president who promised us an equal, prosperous, and happy future. Obama promised to fight climate change, repeal the Bush tax cuts that only benefited the rich elites, and most importantly to bridge the gaps we have as people in this country.

None of these promises have been fulfilled and with the discord flaring up constantly in the world, many of us young people feel doomed at what we are about to inherit.

Obama did his best to fulfill his job as president. He did strive to introduce a reformed healthcare system that despite its many faults is beneficial. He ended the war in Iraq, killed Osama Bin Laden, and toned down our operations in Afghanistan. At home, Obama has been vital in securing marriage equality for LGBTQ citizens.

These were victories we felt as Americans, but the high they gave us has long worn off. Faced with ISIS, a severe strain on U.S. and Russian relations, civil unrest at home, the threat of climate change, and an overall turbulent and unpredictable world, it begs the question if Obama has done enough during his presidency.

For our generation, Obama represents the first great heartbreak with American politics. We gave our confidence into the system, and we were given a full course in corruption and greed.

As the Occupy protests broke out, Obama said to ABC, “The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side…people who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers that those folks aren’t rewarded.”

As Obama solidifies his legacy and makes his last hurrah campaigning for Hillary, the brunt of that absence of hope is hitting America hard.

However, the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have only gotten richer as corporations circumvent taxes and gain influence by funding political campaigns. Over the course of his presidency, Obama has always empathized with the poor and middle class, but never truly executed policies that would discourage corporate greed and corruption.

Obama has spent much his term in a title fight with a Republican controlled Congress that has at times flamboyantly shown how dysfunctional the government is in the most powerful nation in the world.

The government shutdown in October of 2013 was an example of these senseless partisan politics and an inability to compromise to simply get our own federal government to be funded and working.

There is also the issue of the US military’s drone war that’s been an ongoing program during Obama’s tenure. According to a press release provided by the White House, drone strikes have killed approximately 64-116 civilians along with 2,581 combatants from January 20, 2009 to December 31, 2015.

However, according to the White House, these numbers are rough estimates compiled from all operations in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan and does not account for operations in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS.

NGOs such as the Long War Journal and New America Foundation heavily dispute the civilian death count and estimate it to be 200-900 deaths higher and place the ratio of civilian to combatant death at 1:3. With Obama as Commander-in-Chief, the eagle on the seal has still kept its head cocked towards the arrows.

As Obama solidifies his legacy and makes his last hurrah campaigning for Hillary, the brunt of that absence of hope is hitting America hard. Millennials have even greater electoral power in this election as more and more of us are of age to vote, and we have our backs against the wall.

With the defeat of Bernie Sanders, there is no person to assume the same archetype Obama embodied. There is also a lesson to be learned from giving a politician that amount of emotional power; heartbreak is always there waiting.

A Buddhist monk once said, “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.” After these 8 years, hope is more valuable than gold.