I like Obama. It's true, I really do. While I never voted for him, I always held a little bit of optimism that this smart, accomplished, charismatic man was capable enough to run our country and help us prosper.
Having friends and family that hold to differing political views, I have benefitted from seeing things from various perspectives. So I can understand why young people flocked to Obama's banner. He was an effective communicator, who convinced them that the system currently in place (at the time) wasn't working.
He was something of an outsider (or was perceived to be). He led a grassroots campaign in 2008 that thrived off of small donations and the enthusiasm of a growing base. By the time the nomination came, the political landscape was shocked to see this little-known senator from Illinois beat a liberal stalwart like Hillary Clinton. The momentum was growing, and even a war hero like McCain couldn't stop it.
It was a large part of why many Americans liked him.
I am also willing to appreciate the massive burden that was placed on Obama's shoulders. As the first black President of the United States, he was under unimaginable pressure. You see, although I'm a white guy, I understand the solidarity that exists within the African-American community. Since the Civil Rights movement (even long before that, really), black Americans stood together. There is an idea among black Americans that "if one of us succeeds, we all succeed."
But the converse is also true. "If one of us fails, especially a highly visible figure (i.e.: Cosby) we all fail."
This kind of unity is rare among other ethnic groups and is all but nonexistent among white Americans. It's something that has brought strength to black Americans, but has also placed this burden on Obama.
If he were to screw up in a big way, if he were to embarrass himself or his family, it would have shamed all black Americans. Not because white people would be quick to make the connection (many white people voted for him, after all), but because this solidarity is a double-edged sword.
I can't imagine how challenging it was for Obama. And I respect him for carrying himself with dignity, intelligence, and professionalism. In that way, he was a model for the Presidency.
But despite all my good wishes and hopes, the fact remains that I could not support most of the decisions he made as our Commander in Chief. I often found myself confounded, shaking my head, at the bizarre, un-American, and aggressively liberal stances that were coming out of his administration.
I could only conclude that either he had a vision for America that was radically different from any other President’s (and from what he said during the campaign) or he allowed party politics and advice from the wrong people to hold sway (that certainly was true with Secretary of State Clinton).
So I am left with a conundrum. I want to think that Obama was a good man, a good President. But I cannot reconcile the facts: that his leadership and the leadership of his administration have made many parts of our country weaker, divisive, and regressive.
Let's go over a few.
Perhaps the worst- and most confounding- is in the area of terrorism. After 9-11, our country was faced with a new reality, one where we were the primary targets of global jihad. Radical, Islamic terrorists, united under Al Queda, had declared war on the Western world. Their goal: the complete eradication of our democracies, freedoms, and ways of life.
President Bush, despite his reputation, made sure that no major terrorist attacks were committed on U.S. soil after that fateful day. Because of his efforts, many were thwarted.
But since Obama's presidency, we've seen a shocking rise in deadly attacks in both America and Europe. The last two years have been especially terrible. Deadly attacks occurred in Paris (certainly the worst), Nice, Belgium, Istanbul (numerous times), San Bernardino, Berlin, Orlando, Ohio, and Fort Lauderdale. The deal tolls range, but the facts are the same: radical Islamic terrorists attacked innocent civilians who were helpless to defend themselves.
In truth, the number and frequency of deadly terrorist attacks on U.S. soil grew substantially worse under Obama...
The situation worldwide is even worse, with the number of annual terrorist deaths increasing over 400 percent since Obama took office. ISIS happened on Obama’s watch, while al-Qaeda and the Taliban are resurgent. The hellish mess he made of Syria will threaten the security of Western nations for years to come. (via Breitbart)
For those that don't understand, ISIS was formed because of Obama's decision to withdraw troops from Iraq. The vacuum of power they left allowed the Islamic State to seize power and spread like a cancer throughout Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. This was something both Obama and Clinton were warned would happen, yet they did it anyway.
President Obama boasted that his administration would be the "most transparent in history." Obama claimed to value the rights and privacy of all Americans. Under his watch, we learned that the NSA was acquiring massive amounts of personal data about Americans.
The US government, with assistance from major telecommunications carriers including AT&T, has engaged in massive, illegal dragnet surveillance of the domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans... (via EFF)
It started with Bush under the Patriot Act, but was greatly expanded under Obama. But why? The excuse that it was to protect us from terrorism doesn't hold water, as I've listed the many attacks that were not caught or thwarted. In fact, there is evidence that U.S. attackers had given clues that they were about to cause harm. Somehow those messages slipped through our federal agencies' fingers.
I've talked about Obama's shifty unemployment numbers before. While I do believe he wanted to get Americans back to work, the Democrats' strategy is to dump billions of dollars into government agencies and programs, instead of cutting taxes to help businesses.
The fact remains that the economy is still hurting and those employment numbers aren't what they seem.
Dips in the headline unemployment rate, while huge numbers of Americans departed the workforce for good and dropped off the government’s reports, were a staple of the Obama era. Most “improvements” in the unemployment rate during his re-election campaign were a result of people giving up on looking for work, which made them invisible to the Bureau of Labor Statistics within a few months. (via Breitbart)
Perhaps the worst and longest-lasting legacy of Obama's administration will be the deterioration of race relations between black and white Americans. Never in my 32 years of life have I seen things so bad.
As a child in the 80's, there was a very real sense of equality and diversity. People seemed to get along better than they ever have. That continued in the 90's. Despite some high-profile cases that challenged the relationship between white and black Americans (the O.J. trial and the Rodney King beating), they seemed like isolated incidents. When the dust settled, we seemed to rebound.
In the last eight years, we've seen a resurgence of animosity not felt since before the Civil Rights era. The rise of Black Lives Matter and increased attention on groups like the New Black Panthers have stirred up greater anger, hatred, and mistrust between Americans. Did YOU see this many protests and riots during the 80's and 90's, even the 00's for that matter?
This is a country, I must remind you, that twice elected a black President. A country with prominent black leaders in government, military, education, science, news, and entertainment. Yet we have groups that are claiming the United States systematically targets black Americans for extermination. Groups that applaud the deaths of cops.
You can chronicle Obama's complicit attitude toward anti-white racism in America. It started back in 2009, when he criticized a police officer's action when confronting Henry Louis Gates. Obama took the side of drug addict Trayvon Martin, who was trying to kill George Zimmerman, who was forced to shoot the man. This incident led to rioting across the country and most certainly sparked the creation of Black Lives Matter.
It's clear that Obama has consistently used complicated moments of confrontation between black Americans and others to manipulate the media and black citizens. Had he stopped and studied the details, he could have formulated a better response. Instead, he pushed a narrative that black people are constant victims who do not have a voice in our modern society. This from the first black President of the United States.
These actions alone invalidate his Presidency. Above all else, the President should be a figure every American should look to for strength and support. Instead, Obama exploited controversial issues to drive a larger wedge between white and black Americans. He of all people should know how tense and sensitive these issues are. His treatment of American race relations was like dynamite on a fault line.
Our next President has a lot of work to do if he hopes to undo the damage of the smart, charismatic, but ultimately failed Obama administration.
People will remember Obama for his image and charm. The media and liberals will try to ignore his many mistakes. Regardless of whether they acknowledge them or not, they will be felt in this country for years to come.