Where are You, Obama?
Barack Obama's eight years as our commander-in-chief now seems like a lifetime ago thanks to the ridiculously stretched out 2016 election that resulted in America's vote for Donald Trump as our current president. For many, the stress of politics has not gotten any easier, the media has been consistently showing us battles between Democrats and Republicans over Donald Trump's cabinet picks, questionable executive orders, and feuds with the media. President Trump has had a controversial first five weeks, to say the least, and this is just the start. Barack Obama, the man who referred to Donald Trump as “The Donald” during his speech at the 2016 White House Correspondents Dinner, had plenty to say about the Republican during election season, but has had little to say about him or his actions so far as President of the United States.
So where has Barack been while America continues to be divided and Trump continues to downgrade and repeal many of Obama's policies that shaped his legacy? Vacation. Since Trump took office, President Obama has only been spotted a handful of times. Barack and Michelle were seen in the Caribbean during the beginning of February where pictures surfaced of Barack learning how to kitesurf alongside billionaire business mogul Richard Branson according to Branson's website, Virgin.com. I will be the first to say that I think President Obama has earned the right to take any vacation he wants after everything he endured and accomplished during his time in office, though I can't help but feel that the man who was a beacon of “Hope” has no idea just how much hope many Americans are losing. When Obama became the first African-American president, he gave faith to a generation of young people and proved that, no matter your race, religion, or sexual orientation, no dream is too big.
President Obama had little to say about President Trump's first attempt at an immigration ban that targeted the seven predominantly Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and also banned refugees for 120 days and banned Syrian refugees indefinitely. While Thousands marched in protest around the world, Obama (who was only ten days out of office) commented on the issue via his spokesperson, Kevin Lewis, according to the New York Times. The statement said he “fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.” It also went on to say “Citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard by their elected officials is exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake.” Personally, this was not enough from a president who seemed to pride himself on being a president for ALL Americans. I would have liked to see Obama doing interviews or leading a protest, and I know that's a lot to ask from a president ten days out of office but this transfer of power has been unique and very heated.
The immigration ban was just the beginning. The Washington Post stated that on February 22nd, the Trump administration informed the U.S Supreme Court that they ordered schools to ignore memos from the Obama administration that federally protected a hotly debated LGBT right. Those memos allowed transgender students to use the specific restroom facility that they identify with, and that prohibiting them from doing so violates federal anti-discrimination laws. Though this is not a surprising move from the Trump administration, Obama has yet to comment on this issue that is leaving transgender students and their families in anger and fear. Again, I feel Obama should be speaking out and fighting for this issue with his own words because he continues to be a trusted and needed icon of the American people.
Perhaps one of the biggest stories of 2016 was the Dakota Access Pipeline that left Native Americans in fear that the pipeline would run through the Standing Rock Reservations sacred land and possibly poison their water supply. Thousands joined Standing Rock in protest throughout the year and just before leaving office, the Obama administration blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline from building in the area of dispute. Just a few days in office Donald Trump posted a photo of himself on his Instagram signing an executive order to move forward with the controversial pipeline. This decision came to no surprise for many but there is bound to be another round of ugly protest in the near future. Obama has yet to comment. No one seems to know if Obama will fight this pipeline while outside the White House. Only time will tell.
Maybe I'm selfish for wanting Obama to continue fighting for his policies after he just got done spending eight years of his life running the country. Maybe I am overreacting when I sit and read the news and think to myself that Obama’s legacy is already being threatened by Trumps America. Although on February 24th President Obama was spotted in New York City walking out of a coffee shop where crowds cheered him on, maybe this means vacation is finally over and he will soon begin joining millions of Americans in the resistance of Donald Trump.