I thought I would take an opportunity to lend a platform to those who converse about politics mostly through Facebook posts and dinner conversation, those whose opinions are not normally disseminated to a large audience. I asked friends and family, and coworkers and colleagues, “What is President Obama’s legacy?” Here are their answers.
Jeff Nemecek, “Conservative”:
“I see two principal legacies of President Obama’s two terms of office. First, he inaugurated a period in which ideology was paramount in guiding governmental action and was allowed to blur the world of everyday reality. Foreign and domestic policy and administrative initiatives were made subordinate to ideological imperatives and America’s domestic general welfare and standing in the world suffered as a consequence. By indulging his ideological proclivities without the governance of any measured restraint, Obama proved himself to be damaging and destructive in everything that he touched. One can only pray that what he did to the country is reversible. President Obama’s second principal legacy, unlike the first, was unintended. Obama’s ideological rigidity and cram-it-down-your-throat style of politics has ushered America into a new era in which the major political combatants are no longer Republicans versus Democrats–but, rather, the People versus the Elites. The People are angry as to what the Elites have determined to impose upon the People (in terms of economic opportunity, social policy, etc.) and the Elites are seeking to protect their prerogatives to direct the course of the country without accountability to anyone or responsibility for results. This battle will be fought for a long time to come.”
Tony Landa, “Open-Minded Liberal”:
“President Obama will be remembered for being one of the most intelligent, even-tempered individuals ever to hold office. His presidency was scandal-free. He met crisis and criticism with a measured response at all times. His predecessors left him unfinished business, including healthcare and the War on Terror, and President Obama followed through by signing into law universal healthcare and ordering the strike that killed Osama Bin Laden. Unfortunately, he will also be remembered for being blocked at passing anything truly notable due to the uncompromising ideological Republican opposition. Much of his legacy, of course, will be determined by what isn’t repealed or overturned in the next two years. He is young. I believe his greatest work in this country is yet to be done.”
Kevin Sissons, “Pro-Individual”:
“Obama is a product of the anti-conservative movement that began in earnest in the 70s after Watergate. Growing up, Obama was surrounded by people that basically hated the USA and everything it stood for. Subsequently, he surrounded himself with like-minded people as President of the USA. As a result, his 8 year term cannot even be called mediocre as the economy became more of a sludge fest than a dynamic and growing one the left likes to say it is. But the one thing that Obama will be remembered for is Obamacare. As wrong as Justice Roberts was by letting the ACA pass through the US Supreme Court, calling the ACA a tax was the next best thing. Obamacare is in fact a tax on the middle class. This will be Obama’s legacy. And the best part of it all is that the mainstream media has lost its hold on the populace and can no longer defend Obama effectively. They can try to put as much lipstick on that pig as they want but a 62% labor participation rate and the anemic jobs that are replacing the good ones lost cannot be hidden. There are a lot of angry people in the USA because Obama failed them.”
Jeff Stone, “Bernie Sanders Progressive”:
“Like him or not, history will show him as one of the very consequential presidents. I think he will be remembered for inheriting and navigating out of some of the major economic troubles linked to the Bush administration. I think part of his legacy will be that he ordered more drone strikes against foreign combatants in his first 3 years than Bush did in 8, contrasting against his Nobel Peace Prize. I think history will be kind to him for attempting to provide things that the majority of American citizens wanted, like getting our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, universal health care and attempts at additional firearm safety precautions. How successful those were or weren’t will be debated ad nauseam, but I do feel history will be kind to him.”
Nick Morlock, “Factivist”:
“I think his legacy is division, the rise of the regressive left, SJWs, safe spaces, trigger warnings, and the fetish of victimhood. He may not be 100% responsible for all of that, but those will be the highlights of his presidency, unfortunately not Obamacare. Maybe golf?”
Carol Dawkins, “Independent Thinker”:
“Many opinions have been giving on the impending legacy of President Obama, who was the first African-American to hold the office. There are those who voted for President Obama due to his ethnicity, but I, as an African-American woman, took into account his experience and ability to lead and improve the lives of all American citizens, regardless of your ethnicity. I believe his legacy, in keeping with his mantra of the “audacity of hope” was brought forward in 2008 with his election. His election comprises a large part of his legacy. Though he met with opposition on all fronts, pushed forward to improve everyone’s lives and bolstered the self-esteem of American minorities and those in the middle class and lower-income Americans. Even though he endured Republican opposition he still managed to pass part of his legislative agenda. With him leaving office, I hope he sees in his future the opportunity to go back to his roots of activism, and not just go on the lecture-tour circuit.”
Elizabeth Nemecek, “Neoconservative”:
“This is Obama’s legacy: the end of the American century. Tragic, but true: the conflagration in the Middle East, China on the march, the rise of a violent political ideology that seeks global hegemony, but whose name Obama dare not speak; the loss of American prestige abroad, the weakening of what was once the world’s finest military, thanks to the meretricious charms of the P.C. movement; the increased racial division, the increased dependency on government, the destabilizing national debt. All of these, among others, signal the end of empire.”
David Eliassen, “Conservative”:
“Aside from presiding over the demise of Osama Bin Laden, it’s hard for me to cite a major accomplishment. The argument most often heard is that he dealt effectively with the financial crisis he inherited in 2009, but this falls flat as presidents don’t cause or cure such cyclical occurrences. His real legacy I think will be more about what he failed to do. Some 90% of black people voted for him but you can’t help but notice he took all his family vacations on Martha’s Vineyard — not downtown Baltimore, Chicago or Ferguson. Unemployment among blacks is just where it was when he took office, inner cities are a mess, and racial divides are more pronounced than I’ve seen in a long time. The color of his skin got him where he is, and he should hope he is judged by it as well, rather than “the content of his character” as MLK said.”
Moshe Levy, “Zionist-at-Large”:
“President Obama’s legacy is one of unmitigated disaster. For his party, he presided over a loss of 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 12 governorships. Our traditional and loyal allies, like Israel, have served as his administration’s proverbial fire hydrant for eight years, while those who chant “Death To America” and threaten a second Holocaust weekly are emboldened and enriched. His legacy is one of hope devoid of substance, and foreign policy built on the shifting sands of red lines drawn in invisible ink. With less than three weeks to endure until the sweet release of Obama’s departure, his hopelessly inept minions like John Kerry continue to embarrass American interests on the world stage, projecting abject impotence and bankrupt moral relativism. So foul is the taste of Democrat on the American voter’s tongue that a vapid reality show charlatan was just elected as the leader of the free world in an electoral landslide. In short, Obama’s legacy was to ensure that although the pendulum will eventually swing back to the left, it won’t be for awhile. Thank God.”
Alice Nemecek, “Libertarian/Objectivist”:
“Too Black to Fail: His Presidency will never be evaluated on its merits as such would cast aspersions on the first black man who broke the racial glass ceiling of the Oval Office. To evaluate his tenure in an objective manner would release micro-aggressions that would shatter the politically-correct barriers that enclose our safe spaces.”
Mark Jacobus, “Life-long Republican”:
“I feel that as with all former presidents, history will be kind to President Obama and view his candidacy as one of great change for the nation when in fact his legacy will be nothing more than a failed presidency of broken promises, racial divide and deprecation of the greatest country on earth. Clearly overwhelmed by the office, the best the junior senator could do was to learn to play golf and look good while speaking eloquently behind a podium. This while the country descended into a morass of racial unrest, failed health care reform, increased poverty, terrorist attacks, dangerous foreign policy and a lack of self-worth rivaled only by the Carter administration. This past election cycle saw a country stand up and say enough is enough! All the problems in the world are not America’s fault as President Obama professed for the past eight years. We are tired of being politically correct and enduring a president apologizing for just about everything. I feel we were at a very important crossroads in this country’s future, fortunately we chose the right path forward where America can be great again.”
Melissa Scasny-Nyback, “A Little Left of Center”:
“Like any President, Obama’s administration saw highs and lows, but I think many will remember him as someone who broke barriers in terms of being the first African-American elected. I think that reminded the country that it is important to look beyond the “same old, same old” and that previous boundaries are no longer there for those who wish to be President.”
Michelle Montany, “Progressive Libertarian”:
“While Obama deserves to remembered as an intelligent, charismatic, and likable leader with a long list of domestic wins and accomplishments, I believe as time goes on the aggressive nature of his foreign policy will overshadow the positive points of his eight years in office. The man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize went on to continue the Bush administrations’ neocon agenda, expanding the wars in the Middle East beyond Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving Syria in shambles, and nearly obliterating the country of Libya. Obama oversaw the proliferation of drone warfare, the installment of the unpopular Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the provision of arms to Saudi Arabia which have been used relentlessly against the people of Yemen, and a failed diplomacy with Putin over Ukraine and Syria, which has left relations with Russia at near Cold War levels of deterioration. In short, the world is less stable and more dangerous after eight years of Obama’s failed counter-terrorism strategies. In addition, with the continuation and expansion of the Patriot Act, government surveillance over citizens is at an all time high, and persecution of whistle-blowers has silenced dissent. Obama’s prolific use of rule by executive orders has created a never-before seen expansion of Presidential power which is now being handed to a potentially dangerous successor. Obama’s legacy deserves, in great part, to measured in the blood of the innocent lives destroyed by his aggressive and fruitless foreign entanglements.”
My own personal feelings are that President Obama’s legacy is a lowering of the bar for who is considered “qualified” to be president. And by “qualified” I don’t refer to ideology, but to experience. I abhor identity politics and was not swept up in the fervor, the “importance,” of electing the first African-American president. When people’s hearts are gladdened by the first this or the first that to be president, I feel as though a meeting was held wherein somebody banged a gavel and said, “Look, it’s decided, we picked a demographic from which we want to draw a chief executive from, and this candidate is the best we could do.” It doesn’t speak well to the qualifications of that candidate. Was Obama truly the best candidate for the job in 2008? I have no idea; all the oxygen in the room was sucked out by all the heavy breathing of him being the first African-American for the job. Elections to high office should not be influenced by affirmative action hiring practices (thank God it didn’t work out for Hillary Clinton).
I don’t blame Obama for this. I blame the media outlets and late night TV shows that spent 8 years trying to convince Americans that George W. Bush was illegitimate, from Bush v. Gore through the constant repetition of how stupid he supposedly was. My own personal theory is that the media’s treatment of Bush helped create a feeling in the public mood of “Well, if George W. Bush could be president, then anyone could be president.” Thus, when a well-spoken Democrat (8 years is usually the most the pendulum can swing in one direction) whose lack of experience grants him a blank slate upon which can be painted the hopes of a war-weary populace mired in a recession, any and all other considerations of his qualifications become secondary.
So, the personification of Obama’s legacy is Donald Trump. We need a Commander-in-Chief, a sober head of state, someone who knows how to balance the competing interests of 535 federal legislators, as well as juggle an ever-expanding administrative state. I very much doubt Donald Trump is that man; yes, he’s had “executive experience,” but America needs a president who will exercise the mighty power of the United States government only as a last resort, but if it must be wielded, then it needs to be with conviction and foresight. Donald Trump will be our first Advertiser-in-Chief, a brilliant branding and marketing guru; I am not holding my breath that his hand on the tiller will be an even and steady one. But, thanks to Presidents Obama and Trump, American voters seemingly no longer demand a former governor, general or politician who had spent decades in public service before occupying the White House.
This post was written by Dillon Eliassen.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.
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