“Free us from Obama!”
This is what the Republicans have been shouting since the Democratic president’s rise to power in January 2009. These cries double in intensity as the race for the White House reaches full swing.
What they say gives the impression that Barack Obama has led the U.S. to the edge of decline. “He’s probably the worst president in the history of our country,” Donald Trump has said.
Paradoxically, on the other side of the political chessboard, many progressives say they are disappointed. They maintain that Obama has done very little on American soil.
These disappointed Democrats should hear the Republican contenders for the White House, who promise that if they are elected, they will do away with many of the president’s decisions. They would realize how far we have come since the presidency of George W. Bush.
This evening, they will be able to assess the situation. The president will hold his last State of the Union address. He intends to recall the “remarkable progress” achieved during his term.
He will surely speak of his greatest regret: that he has not been able to convince Congress to come together and ensure better gun control.
But nevertheless, he will have a lot to draw on when the moment comes to give his account.
We remember his most memorable actions. “Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive,” his vice president, Joe Biden, has said.
Beyond this simplistic statement, Obama has multiplied the initiatives for the relaunch of a derailing economy (14 million jobs have been created since February 2010), all while trying to make his country more egalitarian by reforming the health care system, increasing taxes on the wealthiest, and allowing homosexuals to be out in the Army.
He has also made his country take a green turn, by requiring power plants to reduce greenhouse gases by 32 percent, among other things.
What is less known is that Obama has also “engineered quite a few quiet revolutions.” The American journalist Michael Grunwald used this expression. He believes that numerous significant actions did not enjoy the media attention they deserved. According to Grunwald, there is a troubling gap between the impression of Obama’s legacy and the reality.
Who remembers his major reform of the federal student loan program? Who has heard of the way that the president stimulated the renewable energy sector or the sustainable impact — as much on the environment as on the economy — of his obsession with energy efficiency? Who knows about all the positive effects that health care reform has had? (The rate of Americans without insurance, for example, has gone from 18.2 percent to 10.5 percent in five years.)
Obama’s balance sheet impresses all the more when you realize that for six years he will have dealt with a Congress controlled by Republicans in both houses; rivals who did everything they could to throw a wrench in his plans, and who today dream of cutting his legacy to pieces.