Barack Obama burst on the scene when he defied the odds to beat Hillary Clinton and win the Democratic nomination for the 2008 US general election. A face of hope and change, he captivated the American people with his charisma and public speaking ability. He was victorious in 2008 and subsequently was reelected in 2012 for a second term in office.
I have decided to review his second term and see how this might have affected the results of the 2016 election in the United States.
Generally, and with the benefit of years of hindsight (something I don’t have at the moment), history views US presidents based on their full terms in office and how that impacted the future of their country. The electorate, however, views them based upon their most recent terms in office. A prime example of this is how Ronald Reagan led America through a period of relative economic prosperity, winning himself a second term and also helping to secure the reelection of the Republican party in the next election. Meanwhile, history sees his tenure as one of poor decision making and economically unhelpful to his successors. I will review Obama’s second term in office based upon 3 key areas: Economic policy, Domestic policy and Foreign policy.
The Obama administration has led their country through a period of economic uncertainty. The world-wide financial crash in 2007 meant he inherited a shuddering economy, with high unemployment and national debt, coupled with falling growth. Since then, job growth has risen and the unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 10% in 2009, to around 5% now.
Despite this, Obama failed to produce an economic policy to incite serious growth, or a major increase in jobs with strong wages. He has also increased national debt from $10.626 trillion to $15.566 trillion in his 8 years. Most of the great US presidents of the past brought periods of prosperity to the people of their nation, Obama failed in this aspect.
Domestic policy is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Obama era. Poor relations with a majority Republican congress, made passing bills extremely difficult. The affordable healthcare act, or Obamacare as its commonly known, was pushed through congress towards the end of his first term. “The Affordable Care Act is a long, complex piece of legislation that attempts to reform the healthcare system. It provides more Americans with Affordable Quality Health Insurance and attempts to curb the growth in healthcare spending in the U.S.” More than 15 million Americans use Obamacare today, and it is seen by Democrats to be a major success story. Despite this, it remains highly unpopular with many upper-class Americans. Dismantling Obamacare was one of the most popular policies during Donald Trumps campaign.
Obama’s second term has seen little change in domestic policy from his first. This is mainly due to problems overseas and an inability to pass laws. But can also be blamed on a lack of any decent ideas that could impact upon American society in any meaningful way. The only real exception to this was legalization of same sex marriage in 2015.
The main policy of Obama’s election campaign for 2008 was to dismantle the aggressive and arrogant image of America from the Bush era. In his first term he succeeded with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and the capture of Osama bin Laden.
In his second term things have changed. The rise of ISIS in the middle east has presented serious problems with terrorism all over the world, making it no safer than before. The complicated wars in both Libya and Syria have strengthened the position of ISIS and similar groups. This coupled with a breakdown in relations between the USA and Russia has led to the reemergence of a kind of Cold War between the two. However, the Nuclear deal with Iran is a major step forward.
Overall, the Obama era has been extremely average in my opinion. I suppose this is mostly because we all believed he would be the man to change the world. He promised so much, but a combination of an inability to pass laws and the economic downturn has hindered his ability to achieve his goals.
There has been no really serious economic growth during his time. He hasn’t seen any unwelcome major wars (like Korea or Vietnam). There has been no major personal scandals to speak of. He did promise major change, but has overall failed to produce this.
I believe much of his decision making and the overall disappointment felt by many in America, mostly in his economic and domestic policy, are partially to blame for Trumps election this year.
Despite all of this, Obama carried himself with remarkable dignity during his time as president, and is definitely still the coolest man ever to hold the job. In conclusion, Obama didn’t fail the American people, nor did he excel.
Thanks for reading!