Recently President Obama made a few statements that I feel need to be addressed. But before I get too far into that, I feel that I first need to state how I feel about Barack Obama’s time in office as President of the United States. As I have state before, I am a huge liberal, but a liberal with common sense unlike many mainstream establishment Democrats (Obama certainly fits into that category). Nevertheless, I feel that Obama has been a pretty mixed bag during his tenure as President.
Lets start with the good. When Barack Obama first ran for President back in 2008, he was believed to be a big progressive. During his 2012 campaign he played the role of the big progressive. But while he was in office did he do anything that was really progressive. The answer is that he did do some things. Examples of progressive things he did while in office are as follows: he released a record breaking amount of nonviolent drug offenders from prison, he extended the overtime rule which allows average Americans to receive overtime pay, the Cuba deal, he revived our economy following the Great Bush Recession, he doubled the stock market under his watch, the rate of incarceration has gone down, he was the first president to openly come out in support of gay marriage, under his watch the Keystone pipeline was rejected, and he pushed for the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). I’m not here to deny that Obama has done some progressive things while in office and we should give him credit for it.
With that being said, we also have to give him blame for the regressive things he has done. For example: yes, Obama did achieve the Affordable Care Act. But is that really a great accomplishment? The true liberal position is not a mandate to buy private healthcare (which is essentially what Obamacare is and was when it was first proposed by Nixon, a Republican), but free single payer healthcare. That is the true liberal position. Therefore, on the grand political spectrum, Obama was rather regressive when it comes to healthcare for all. Democrats often argue this point by saying that Republicans in the congress would block everything that Obama attempted to pass. While this may be true in Obama’s second term, Democrats had held both the Senate and the House of Representatives during his first term. If Obama was really interested in being progressive, he would have pushed for single payer healthcare and he would have gotten it. But why didn’t he push for the progressive choice? Because in 2008 Barack Obama received a donation of $20 million dollars from the health industry. That is nearly three times the amount that they donated to John McCain. Politicians are only loyal to those who are giving them large amounts of cash. If it is a campaign ran mostly by contributions of the American people (such as Bernie Sanders) then that politician will serve the people. But if big corporations are their source of income, they will serve the big corporations. Because the healthcare industry donated a large amount of money to him and is campaign, and since single payer healthcare would put these companies out of business, it is foolish to believe that they did not have some sort of special interest and Obama didn’t pander to them.
Another example of this is Obama’s continued support for the TPP, which Hillary Clinton once referred to as the “gold standard” in trade deals and has since flipped her position. But this is possibly the most regressive thing Obama could have done. The TPP allows countries such as Malaysia in with open arms despite their support for slavery. This deal allows corporatists like Obama to put his morals aside and support countries with forced labors and cruel dictators. And worse, they attempt to cover it up for them.He also promised to pull us completely out of war and while we are mostly out of Iraq and Afghanistan, the drone strikes statistics have skyrocketed in his tenure resulting in many innocents losing their lives. He has said nothing about decreasing our currently very bloated military industrial system (which currently makes up roughly 57% of our budget) and his foreign policy as a whole still overly aggressive and hawkish. He was supposed to push for legislation that would make it easier for immigrants to become American citizens, but he increased deportations. The crooks on Wall Street got Get Out of Jail Free cards. Rather than regulating Wall Street with Dodd-Frank, Obama’s legislation watered down the bill making many loopholes because he was getting money from Wall Street bankers. This is not progress. With each step forward, Obama and Democrats like him insist that we take another step back.
Obama currently stands starkly against Keith Ellison becoming the new chair of the DNC because he doesn’t want the “Bernie wing” of the Democratic Party taking over despite the fact that Ellison has received endorsements from other establishment Democrats such as Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid. Granted Schumer’s and Reid’s endorsements were purely strategic, they endorsed him nonetheless because they realize that the establishment can’t win this fight and if they continue down their pro-establishment and pro-corporatist path, the Democratic Party will become extinct. He also recently stated that the mainstream media covered the WikiLeaks too much. No, they didn’t cover them nearly enough. He doesn’t get to blame Wiki for Hillary Clinton’s loss. The blame is all on her, the DNC, and sleazy no good corporate sellouts just like him.
Overall, President Obama’s tenure as president has been extremely average at best and there is an argument to be made that it has been slightly below average. While I really want to give him a flat C in performance, I will give him a C+ because I do believe that his heart was in the right place sometimes. Too bad that he did a very mediocre job. Too bad he will only be remembered for being the first black president. He could have really been something special…but ultimately, he failed us.