What Is The Legacy of President Barack Obama?
Candidate Barack Obama Campaigning in 2008
Job Gain/Loss Chart from 2008 Through 2016
Dow Jones Industrial chart from 2007 through 2016
The two most significant economic occurrences of the last 100 years are the stock market crash of 1929 and ensuing Great Depression and the financial collapse of 2008 and the following recession presided over by Barack Obama.
When Obama assumed office in January of 2009 the economy of the United States was in literal freefall. Nearly 800,000 jobs a month were being lost, the housing and auto industries were in steep decline and major financial institutions were in danger of total collapse causing the stock market to plummet as a result. At the time economic experts were comparing the economic state with the conditions that existed preceding the Great Depression.
The situation demanded immediate relief and drastic measures in order to rescue the nation from financial ruin.
Obama went to work on the auto and housing industries. Implementing bold and innovative programs he stabilized both and within a short period of time both were in recovery. By the end of his first term both were showing significant gains with signs of sustained growth. The stock market also recovered from sub 8,000 Dow Jones readings to well over 17,000 by 2014.
Although many debated whether the recovery was as good as the Obama administration declared there was no debate concerning the dire state that the economy was in when he took office and that it significantly improved under his leadership.
One of the first initiatives that Barack Obama undertook when he became president was the creation of a national healthcare system. In the minds of many Americans this made no sense but in the mind of Obama the costs of healthcare were tied together with the inflationary conditions which caused the financial meltdown of 2008. In his reasoning uninsured Americans were driving up the cost of healthcare by passing on the cost of their care to insured Americans which in turn caused healthcare providers to charge more for their services. To many people, initiating healthcare reform in the middle of a financial crisis was political suicide but Obama forged through healthcare legislation that insured millions of Americans and eventually drove down healthcare costs while improving healthcare through competition.
Although the initial roll out was rough the program's bugs were worked out and started to show positive results.
To his credit Obama accomplished something that presidents before him dating back to Teddy Roosevelt hadn't achieved and by doing so undoubtedly solidified his place in history.
End To War
One of the campaign promises that Barack Obama made during the presidential campaign of 2008 was to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars had been waging for 5 years in Iraq and 7 years in Afghanistan and the American public had grown weary of both. Many Americans, like Obama, felt that the war in Iraq was an unnecessary conflict that was started under false pretenses and that the war in Afghanistan was an unwinnable engagement that was costing lives and billions of dollars. Troop levels were at a historical low requiring the activation of National Guard reserve troops to active duty and multiple tours of duty with some soldiers going back to the war zone up to four and five times. This put a tremendous strain on those serving in the military as well as their families and caused many of them to commit suicide due to the emotional effects of war.
Obama made good on his promise and brought the last combat troops home in 2014. This move brought criticism from both Democrats and Republicans but the move brought dramatic relief to the economy and took thousands of troops out of harm's way and put them back with their families where many thought they belonged.
Osama Bin Laden
Removal of a Terrorist Threat
After the attacks of September 11, 2001 bringing the person responsible to justice became the number one task of the United States. It was determined by those investigating the incidents that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for the attacks and an immediate search for him concluded that he was most likely hiding out in Afghanistan. Within weeks of the attacks troops were sent to the region to seek him out for capture if possible. The result of that search turned into an ongoing war with the terrorist group Al Qaeda along with other rebel terrorists in the area.
Bin Laden evaded U.S. troops for 10 years until he was killed in a raid by Navy Seals in 2011. The raid, which was authorized by Obama, was a risky venture that required the Seal team to go into Pakistan in order to execute the order. In the confrontation with the Seal team Bin Laden was killed and with his death a major terrorist threat to the world was eliminated.
Repair of Relationships
At the time of President Obama's inauguration the United States' relationships with its allies and other nations was at best strained and at worst broken. Due to its preemptive war against Iraq, which many allies disagreed with, America found itself very much alienated from much of the world nations. In light of this the Obama administration immediately went to work to repair its standing with longtime allies like France and stepping toward building better relationships with nations like China, Russia and Germany. Obama's style of diplomacy rather aggression went a long way in rebuilding ties with the world's nations and enabled the U.S. to restore time-honored alliances that were strong before the terrorist attacks.
President Obama's Farewell Speech
No matter how you feel about him one thing is undeniable; Barack Obama was a pivotal character in the history of this country. He came at a time when America was in the throws of several critical issues that could have significantly damaged this country for many years to come and he skillfully navigated those issues without crashing the ship.
At the time of his election America's economic woes were nothing less than desperate bordering on disastrous. It is easy for people to criticize his presidency and try to minimize what he did because we avoided the same fate of the early 20th century. But if we are honest we will place him where he belongs.....up near the top with some of the greatest presidents to serve America.
A person's legacy is what they leave behind and what others will remember them for. What will Barack Obama be remembered for? Rescuing the economy, creating national healthcare, ending two wars and bringing to justice the presumed architect of the worst terrorist attack on American soil.
That doesn't sound like a bad legacy to leave behind.