Hello Rebel, and welcome back to my life.
Well, I guess we should talk about the fact that today is the last full day of Barack Obama’s Presidency.
Obama’s first election was the first election I paid much attention to, though I didn’t vote in it.
I was 22 years old, and still very much in that “I’m too cool to believe that voting actually matters,” phase of my life.
But I remember that when Obama won, I was happy about it. It wasn’t because I agreed with his policies or anything—frankly, I didn’t know anything about them. I just thought it was cool that we had our first black President.
And while that sounds kind of dumb—a lot of people do downplay how momentous that is. That a country literally founded on slavery and oppression of black people would elect a black President.
Does that mean everything Obama did was great and we should give him a pass on anything that went wrong? No, of course not.
My biggest problem with Obama’s time in office was the expansion of our military drone program and its collateral damage.
Along with just the general tendency to get involved in armed conflicts we don’t need to, though that hardly began with Obama and it certainly won’t end with him.
But I saw from the very beginning how much opposition Obama faced in government, and how much of it was undeniably racial in its motivation.
The legitimacy of his Presidency was questioned right off the bat. Racist jokes came flying from all directions. He was depicted as a monkey in political cartoons.
And it’s important to note that his legitimacy was questioned for no valid reason, as opposed to right now, where Donald’s legitimacy is being questioned for very good, well-documented reasons.
Racist Republicans across the country grew so irate that the Tea Party was formed, which transformed the GOP into the platform of racist, sexist, and homophobic people across the country.
In the face of that opposition, it’s incredible to me how much Obama WAS able to accomplish, how many of his goals he DID achieve.
The greatest of them all, of course, is the Affordable Care Act. It is a flawed piece of legislation, it created problems for some people, but it also enabled millions of people to get healthcare when it was literally impossible before.
The derogatory way Republicans refer to it as “Obamacare” is indicative of how unthinking and ignorant their hatred of him is.
By simply putting his name in the title, they made it into something they could universally hate. As if it was an insult to say that Obama cared.
It’s like people who try to use the term Social Justice Warrior as an insult. Why … do you think … I would feel bad about fighting for social justice?
As John Green recently described, Obamacare is WHY he and Hank were able to begin their careers, because otherwise Hank would never have been able to afford the medication he needs to literally survive.
I wouldn’t have my career without another Obama achievement, which was pulling the U.S. Economy out of the Great Recession.
His unemployment extensions enabled me and my family to stay afloat while I built my writing career, and now I’m able to employ other people, with even more to hire as the year goes on.
There’s one other part of Obama’s Presidency that people sometimes downplay, but which is actually incredibly important—at least to me—and that’s his presentation.
His speechwriters are incredible. But more than that, his delivery, and his ability to succinctly, eloquently express himself even when he’s not speaking from a prompter, is incredible.
I traveled internationally when Bush was President. And it was a constant embarrassment. Even when he was saying good things, he said them poorly, and it was a constant joke.
The President’s public persona is not the MOST important aspect of their job. But it IS important.
When it comes down to it, they don’t even pass the laws they’re often known for. But one of their prime duties is to inspire the American people.
I was not inspired by President Bush. Donald inspires only revulsion and disgust in me.
But I was inspired, again and again, by President Obama. And on the whole, I have been proud to call him my President.
I deeply, deeply hope that one day I get to meet him and thank him for the good things he did for me personally, and for millions of Americans whose lives he has improved.
Everything that will be done in the next four years to roll back the clock on those improvements will not change the fact that they happened, nor will it change who accomplished them in the first place.
So thank you, President Obama, for eight years I have been very proud of.
Thank you for watching, Rebel. I will see you on Monday. Byyye.