After 8 years, President Obama is preparing to leave the Oval Office. College students across the country are dying to cast their votes- many voting for the first time.
Unbeknownst to your aggressively political Facebook friends, a large portion of college students describe their political leanings as “dear god as long as it’s not a republican.” Don’t mistake this apathy for disinterest. The apathetic know the ins and outs of the democratic candidates, and they care about the direction our country is headed. They just can’t help but look back at Obama and ask, “Were we a little harsh?”
I’m not #ready for Hilz. I’m not feelin’ the Bern. I am losing sleep over our impending break-up with President Obama.
We have grown up in an era of extreme partisanship that has contributed to unrest and harsh presidential criticisms. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be critical of your government. That being said, it is time to recognize that, not only did Obama have a phenomenal presidency, he outshines every candidate in the upcoming election.
Let’s begin with Bernie Sanders. His campaign is being carried by people like us, the liberal college kids. He knows what we care about: the environment, LGBTQ rights, higher minimum wage, healthcare, wealth redistribution, reduced college tuition, etc. Of course, most of these are also among Hillary’s top priorities, but we tend to like Sanders more because he says things like “democratic socialism” and “revolution.” Bernie Sanders is extremely liberal and delightfully controversial, but his presidency would be far from a revolution. The U.S. democratic system was designed to check powers. The majority of seats in Congress are filled by republicans that aren’t particularly fond of the word “redistribution.” With Sanders, we wouldn’t see a revolution, but we would see an intensification of political polarization. In other words, it would be really hard to get stuff done.
Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, prides herself as the “get-stuff-done” candidate. Her no-bullshit attitude is being embraced by the feminist movement, and she has most of the votes from minorities. Not to mention, she cares about a lot of the same big issues: the environment, LGBTQ rights, healthcare, etc. That being said, Hillary already has a couple scandals under her belt. Between Benghazi and the “damn emails” we see her as another dirty politician. As we learned from Nixon, LBJ, and W Bush, mistrust between a president and citizens is hugely detrimental to national morale. On top of that, American people don’t want another political dynasty; that’s completely contradictory to our fundamental values. Like Bernie, Hillary is another polarizing candidate in a country with problematic partisanship.
Barack Obama is considered to be a very partisan president, but he is more bi-partisan than the 2016 democratic candidates and infinitely more level-headed. According to MSNBC, Obama has had “an amazingly scandal-free administration.” Despite constant attacks on his race, nationality, and overall presidency, here are just a few things Obama accomplished in his 8 years as President of the United States:
Passed a bi-partisan budget and education reforms
Passed environmental restrictions on power plants- global leader on climate change
Health care reform
Removed troops from Iraq and began to withdraw troops from Afghanistan
Repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
Reversed Bush torture policies
Oversaw Supreme Court legalization of gay marriage
Opened relations with Cuba
Iran Nuclear Deal
Joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The list goes on. Today, America is radically divided and extremely cynical. Obama’s approval ratings are in the 40th percentile. Give it a year- He’s not about to go down in the history books as a “meh” president. I predict that he will be remembered as one of America’s greatest.
Personally, I am going to miss President Obama. I am going to miss his tireless effort to regulate guns and end wars despite constant opposition. I am going to miss having a Black president as Black Lives Matter gains momentum. I am going to miss his constant fight for the balance between security and liberty.
Whoever is elected in 2016, I hope they are prepared to demonstrate the same grace under pressure and genuine concern for the American people.