By VISHAL BAILOOR, political columnist
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA. The name doesn’t inspire the same fever of change or potential that it did four years ago. At the time, America was celebrating the end of President Bush’s second term and looking forward to real change. Stuck, seemingly permanently, in two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, America was fighting a losing battle against an indomitable network of global terrorists; our allies were abandoning us, our economy was collapsing, bin Laden continued to circulate gloating videos — the list is endless. Obama seems to have lost the fire that propelled him into office. The American people are starting to think that perhaps four years of Obama wasn’t quite as promising as it seemed and that the “change” we were promised hasn’t materialized; after all, what has Obama done to earn reelection?
The answer: He has changed the course of America. When President Obama took office, the tasks ahead of him seemed insurmountable. But fast forward through Obama’s presidency to today. Few, if any, Americans worry as much about national security as they did four years ago, with al Qaeda collapsing, and bin Laden only an unhappy memory. The war in Iraq is wrapping up. Iran, the current political “enemy,” suffered a currency collapse and, after a surge in Afghanistan severely dropped American death rates, soldiers are beginning to leave the Middle East faster than they are being sent there. Guantanamo prisoners are slowly but surely being tried in civil courts and military tribunals, ending the Bush administration’s attempt to lock them away forever. After Obama left the podium following a rousing speech at the United Nations a few weeks ago, he was given an enthusiastic ovation from a world grateful for everything he has done.
Obama’s domestic policy is at least as awe-inspiring as his foreign policy, if not more so. Entering office facing the biggest financial crisis in twenty years, with losses second only to those seen in the Great Depression, Obama did not let Americans suffer, but rather championed two stimulus packages that most economists agree halted the economic decline. In 2010, he signed into law the Dodd-Frank reform bill, which regulated quick investments, ended several subprime mortgage practices, and made Wall Street more accountable, but still free. Unemployment, at around 10% in 2008-2009, has fallen to 7.8%, signifying that tens of millions of Americans are able to go to work again. In the midst of all this, he was able to successfully cut taxes for small businesses. No less notable is how when faced with opposition by congressional Republicans, Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which has already given 3.1 million Americans health insurance, allowed kids under 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance, and, despite the claims of its opponents, has been declared constitutional by a Republican-dominated Supreme Court. President Obama also made sure that millions of dollars were allocated to help pay for homeless veterans’ housing and food. And, of course, who can forget Obama’s famous declaration in support of same-sex marriage and his repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?
President Barack Obama, despite loud opposition, has accomplished more in his four years than most leaders accomplish in a lifetime. The real question is, in this upcoming election, will Americans realize what Obama has done for them? The election is approaching very quickly, and is looking better than ever for Obama. In spite of a widely criticized performance in the first debate, Obama is still pulling ahead because of success in the second debate and falling unemployment rates. While it is unlikely that he will sweep minority voters as he did in 2008, due to widespread disappointment that he has not done more for minority rights, he is still considered preferable to Governor Romney, both as a symbol of diversity and as an efficient leader.
At this time four years ago, Americans were tired of Bush-era politics and looking for a leader. Some say that Obama only looks good in comparison to Bush — yet the truth is that Obama has more than proved himself as a president and has garnered a tidal wave of surging support that will enable him to sweep the November election. Obama maintains an edge in almost every possible area — experience, national security, policy, track record — while Romney is continually plagued with gaffes such as his infamous “47%” comment. It all comes down to whether we want four more years of hope and change, or not. After all that Obama has done for the American people, it seems like the title of President is one that fits him just right.