Almost eight years ago, American politics saw an unrivaled shift. George W. Bush’s reign was finally drawing to a close, and the popularity of his legacy was in jeopardy, due to an unpopular war and a great recession brewing as he was on his way out of the oval office. Then came a man who united the country once more. He campaigned on a promise of hope, change and “betting on America again.” He campaigned on a belief that Americans, regardless of what they looked like or where they came from, deserved an opportunity. An opportunity to matter, to succeed.
A fairly unknown Senator with less than luxurious upbringings became one of the most popular presidents that had ever held the office. His popularity even rivals that of John F. Kennedy’s, in no small part because he became the first African-American to hold this historic position. The swearing-in of Barack Obama promised a shift in a country who had begun to be negatively viewed by the majority of the world. He connected America with the world again. Obama will go down in history as a good president and an even greater man.
1. He Navigated The Country Through A Terrible Economy
In January 2009, when President Obama first started his term, things were less than stable. America was on the brink of a great recession. Some economists and pundits even proclaimed that it would be the second Great Depression. Wall Street was a gong show. The housing market was in shreds, stocks crashing left and right, with banks crying that the end of times were near. In November of 2009, 10% of the workforce was unemployed. Despite all odds, Obama managed to turn around the housewarming gift his predecessor had left him. It was not a magic wave of the hands, it took well over seven years to bring the economy back to where it was before the crash. However, Obama most certainly steadied the fluctuating economy, creating well over 13.7 million jobs in the private sector since he moved into the White House. He navigated a nation through quite some turbulent waters.
2. He Made Active Steps Towards Improving Human Rights
Obama has dared to challenge the status quo on issues that have haunted Americans since the dawn of the Union. He believed that America was founded on the promise of equality, a promise that had to extend to all of its citizens. Obama was the first sitting President to openly support gay marriage and The Obama administration helped to legalize same-sex marriage in June of 2015.
3. He Provided Easier Access To Healthcare
During his time in office, Obama took prominent steps towards access to contraception. Obamacare covers one type of birth control per person with no out-of-pocket cost. Obamacare also lowered the uninsured rate from 14.6% to 11.4%. Not an easy feat as a national heath care reform was 75 years in the making.
4. He Worked Towards Renewable Energy And Self Sustainability
In November of 2013, the US produced more oil domestically than it imported. Renewable energy was at an all time high, greatly reducing the reliance on foreign oil.
5. He Finally Brought Troops Home From Iraq
The war the former inhabitant of the White House, George W. Bush, started, cost the country a pretty penny. The Iraq war cost the U.S. Treasury Department close to $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion owed to war veterans in benefits. It is estimated that between 2006 and 2010 as many as 1.6 million Iraqis were displaced. The Iraq war greatly damaged the USA’s reputation as a world leader, not to mention the toll on american soldiers-with 4,487 service personnel lost since 2003. Moving forward President Obama announced that the U.S. relationship with Iraq would be “a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”
6. He’s Freaking Obama
President Obama, with his easy humor, charm, and wit inspired a nation to believe in a unified future. There’s a reason he has the most Facebook likes of any world leader. He took the uptight out of the office and became a joke cracking cool guy everyone at lunch wanted to sit with. Let’s just say that once he leaves office, he’ll surely be offered a gig at Comedy Central.
Obama was more than a president. He will be remembered as someone people thought was one of them. He was unapologetically himself. Obama showed us presidents were human beings, despite the status. He was a voice for those often overlooked, the minorities. He made us believe in the American dream again. He listened, heard the pleas of the average man, heard their hardships and dedication. He worked for the people of his country. It made us believe that we didn’t have to be born with a silver spoon in our mouths to accomplish our dreams. As Obama’s presidency draws to an end, the world will remember him as a man who truly knew the meaning of what it meant to make America great again.
Featured image via Barack Obama