Bravely Speaking to the Robinson Community

Let’s Stop Glorifying Obama – and All Politicians For That Matter

January 19, 2017

As we mentally prepare to inaugurate Donald Trump as the 45th president of the U.S., many people, particularly liberals, are feeling nostalgic over the last eight years of Obama. There are definitely reasons to feel a sense of pride over the Obama administration, but the glorification of this past presidency is a small part of a larger problem on how we treat political leaders in this country.

From the Obama-Biden memes to exclaiming all the ways Obama is so hip and trendy, we tend to lose sight of who Obama really is: a politician. Not a celebrity, and not a best friend. Obama’s media-presented personality allows us to be distracted by his more “problematic” policy decisions.

During Obama’s time as president, the United States has offered to sell around $115 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and has recently decided on selling $1 billion more. This has led to one of Obama’s more interesting “achievements” of redefining what it means to go to war. As recently as October of 2016, the US-sponsored Saudi Arabian coalition, which is fighting Yemen rebels, dropped a U.S.-made bomb on a funeral procession, killing more than 140 people and wounding more than 525. According to the Human Rights Watch, the incident was “an apparent war crime.” Since the start of the 2015 conflict, more than 6,800 people have been killed, mostly by U.S.-sponsored Saudi airstrikes.

A similar situation is also apparent in Libya, where Obama exempted himself from congressional approval of the use of force. He claimed that because there were no boots on the ground, the air war did not count as official war. NATO claimed that no civilians were killed during this warfare, but the New York Times later refuted this with the finding that dozens of innocent civilians were killed by the U.S.

In a similar vain as supporting international killing and crime, Obama has continued the support of Israel, whose forces continuously break international law, and has recently promised an aid package of $38 billion over the next ten years. Israeli forces torture and kill thousands of Palestinians, unlawfully occupy Palestinian land, evict and destroy Palestinian houses, silence and jail protesters, and are currently fighting to be established as a Jewish state in which Christians and Muslims living on Israeli land making up 25 percent of their population would be seen as second-class citizens in the eyes of their government, due to said unlawful occupation. So, not exactly the type of behavior that I want my government supporting, especially the government that’s supposed to be “progressive”.

One of Obama’s more popular policies that undermines the American people is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Although projected to create economic growth because of unbalanced currency rates, the TPP will lead to a loss of U.S. jobs due to outsourcing by member nations. The benefits that are projected to be seen only benefit the wealthy because based on the most simple economic models, sharp surges of imports lead to decreased wages for all but the top 10% of Americans. Investment provisions within the deal create incentives for American businesses to move their jobs overseas. Not to mention that this trade deal completely ignores the complicit behaviors of member nations on issues such as child labor laws and climate change.

This election cycle has hopefully been that of a wake-up call to the Democratic party. Sadly, many these horrific policies, along with others, were shared with Hillary Clinton’s platform. Beyond primary-rigged scandals and Russian hacking, the DNC effectively isolated and silenced the progressive vote, leading Democrats who couldn’t stand the hypocritical ideas of moderates to continue their support of Senator Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein up to the general election. Honestly, I can’t blame them.

I in no way want to gloss over the achievements that this country has made over the past eight years. From passing the Affordable Care Act that brought health insurance to 32 million previously uninsured Americans to helping the U.S. bounce back from the housing crisis, we are indeed in a better place than we were in 2008. Obama will always be symbolically important to this country. But the end of a presidential term should be one of that accurately assesses the work– and lack thereof– that’s been done. The feelings surrounding the end of Obama’s presidency is either that of sadness or pure bliss, and neither are particularly helpful for the state of politics in this country. This is the same culture that creates partisanship and insists that we chose the lesser of two evils, even outside of an election cycle. We cannot ignore the faults of the Democratic Party because then it will never get better.

If we compare Obama to Trump, then yes, he is our savior from on high. But we cannot compare politicians, political parties, or the state of our government to the worst possible case scenario and then act like we are living in heaven on earth.

Democrats, and the entire United States for that matter, should strive for better. Representing true progressives and uniting this party will be necessary in order to create a better America, and to destroy Donald Trump in the next presidential election.

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