By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
Cynics may dismiss it as a coping mechanism, but in many ways, we should be ecstatic to receive “citizen” Barack Hussein Obama back to civilian life instead of melancholy over the end of the greatest presidency in modern U.S. history.
We all knew that it could not last forever. Though we hoped for a better ending, it is what it is. The challenge of the next administration is even more reason to celebrate that Mr. and Mrs. Obama will remain major influencers on the world stage – only now with out the shackles of protocol.
So if you shed tears, make them tears of joy; that this nation rose to the moment not just once in 2008 but again in 2012 to set all other considerations aside and do what was best for us as a nation, that the term of the first African American leader of the free world embodied compassion, principles and competency.
President Obama served longer without a scandal in or around his administration than any of his predecessors – dating back decades; even though he was constantly under the microscope, easily the most closely watched and scrutinized presidency ever.
We should never forget that Mr. Obama came into office at one of the most devastating points in American history – beginning with an economy beyond depressed. Couple that with a posse of Republicans whose pledge before he took his first oath of office was to vehemently oppose any measures that Obama proposed – despite the adverse effect on Americans.
Never forget that the number one objective of Republican lawmakers unashamedly was to assure that Mr. Obama would be a one-term Commander in Chief. They failed miserably as he won re-election by a wider margin than his initial conquest.
Now let us acknowledge the obvious. Were there actions by the president with which we disagreed? Absolutely. Were we always in agreement with Mr. Obama’s priorities? Not at all. Were there times when we thought he should have been more forceful and less conciliatory? Without a doubt. He is man – consequently, flawed.
Given the monumental responsibility the president embraced, his performance was exemplary – light years ahead of those who preceded him in the Oval Office. For those persuaded only by the facts, we conclude with just 10 of literally hundreds of accomplishments of the Obama Administration:
- Repair of a shattered economy. Created more significant and consistent job growth ever – creating a total of 3.7 million new private sector jobs and signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.
- Achieved significant health care reform. After five presidents failed over the past century, successfully implemented universal health insurance in 2010 covering 32 million uninsured Americans, including coverage of pre-existing conditions, mandating experimental measures to cut health care cost growth.
- Led turnaround of the auto industry. Injected $62 billion in federal money to revive the flailing auto industry- resulting in more than 100,000 American jobs. In 2011, the Big Three automakers gained market share for the first time in 20 years.
- Boosted fuel efficiency standards. Released new fuel efficiency standards in 2011 that will nearly double the fuel economy for cars and trucks by 2025; decreased dependency on foreign oil and helped to drop gas prices at the pumps.
- Maintained integrity of Supreme Court. Nominated and obtained confirmation for Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to serve, in 2009; and Elena Kagan, the four woman to serve in 2010 – replacing David Souter and John Paul Stevens.
- Passed Fair Sentencing Act. Responding to a long-standing inequity in the judicial system, signed legislation in 2011 to reduce sentencing disparity between crack versus powder cocaine possession from 100 to 1 to only 18 to 1.
- Expanded Hate Crime protection. Enacted law that broadened existing hate crime protection to include crimes based on a victim’s sexual orientation, gender, or disability in addition to race, color, religion, or national origin.
- Payment to Wronged Minority Farms. Signed 2009 Claims Resolution Act to provide $4.6 billion for Black and Native American farmers who the government cheated out of loans and natural resource royalties in years past.
- Flexed U.S. international muscle. Ended the war in Iraq; withdrew significant troops from Afghanistan; toppled Moammar Gaddafi; forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to accept reform; led U.S. capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
- The “X” Factor. There is no way to quantify the difference Mr. Obama has made on the mindset of African Americans. Children from the humblest beginnings can now share the audacity of hope. His incredible spouse Michelle Obama set the bar higher than any ensuing First Lady is likely to ascend. Here in the end, the nation owes the Obamas a debt of gratitude for a job well done. We are all better for it!
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].