One of the few things that both the left and right can agree on these days is that President Obama’s first term in office has been largely unsuccessful. Democrats point to his inability to take advantage of a Democrat-controlled Congress and Republicans point to a rising deficit and increased role of government. Fox News (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ouKJixL–ms) gripes about everything he does, and even Bill Maher is unhappy with him (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZg4_ufmTQ0&feature=related). They, along with millions of Americans who were inspired in 2008 by his message of “Hope” and promise of “Change,” are disappointed in our President so far, and this disappointment was tangible in last November’s midterm elections. Obama’s inability to follow through on many of his campaign promises regarding the closing of Guantanamo Bay, immigration rights, gun control, energy policy, and increased jobs have left many bitter, and surprisingly, have shed some doubt onto the president’s reelection in 2012.
While I myself am disappointed, I think many overlook his successes and the environment in which he has been working. President Obama entered office in the midst of one of the worst recessions our country has ever faced, inheriting a huge debt from George Bush Jr., two (or one and a half) major wars abroad, and a growing reliance on oil. Despite this, President Obama passed a stimulus bill (which is already being paid back by many car (i.e. GMC) and financial companies (i.e. AIG) with interest, the Affordable Health Care Act (providing healthcare to millions of Americans), and other progressive policies like the repeal on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He brought the employment rate down to the lowest it has been since 2007, he saved the economy from the brink of depression, and created more private sector jobs in 2010 then were created during the entire Bush administration (http://newsjunkiepost.com/2010/10/08/its-official-more-private-sector-jobs-created-in-2010-than-during-entire-bush-years/). Besides other civil rights accomplishments including hate crimes on sexual orientation now prosecutable through the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and significantly increasing the funding for the Violence Against Woman Act, Obama has repealed the Bush restrictions on stem cell research, established the Consumer Protection Bureau (to protect Americans against credit card companies), appointed the first Latin American to the Supreme Court, and even has issued tax cuts for up to 3.5 million small businesses to help pay for employee health care coverage (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/obama-signs-bill-on-student-loans-health-care/).
Obama has not been great, and has let down many; but he has done a lot more than people think. Maybe he is to blame for trying to be bi-partisan and not slandering the right (although they are really asking for it), maybe he hasn’t been singing his praises as much as he should, and maybe if he stayed in line with the mud-slinging politics of the time he wouldn’t be faced with the prospect of losing his bid for reelection. Should we really hate someone though who is trying to unite two polar opposites, who refuses to stoop to the level of his critics, who has done so much in such a volatile and impossible environment? He has his faults, but I think the least we can do is give him a second chance. I’m not giving up hope yet.