This upcoming Friday, Donald J. Trump will be sworn into office in Washington DC, becoming the 45th President of the United States of America. This officially marks the end of Obama’s second, and last, term. Eight years ago, it was Mr. Obama who was sworn into office with the hopes of the American people in the clasp of his hands. Unfortunately, Obama, as a new President, inherited many economic problems from his predecessor and was forced to mop up the housing crisis and recession of 2008. Despite this, Obama campaigned on a platform of hope and equality, and promised the American people change for the better, economically and socially. Now the question remains, what has President Obama done for our nation? What changes has he made that has impacted both our lives and the world, for the better and worse? What will be Barack Obama’s legacy?
Praised for his wisdom and sharpness as a Senator, Obama was a natural problem solver from the start. However, the problems of this country which were placed onto his back proved to be quite a challenge for a 47 year old in 2009. Despite the hardships, Obama has truly changed American society forever. Barack, on June 26, 2015, helped redefine the meaning of equality in America after the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was a right in all 50 states, protected by the Constitution. Prior to this decision, gay marriage was still outlawed in 13 states, and the issue was left to the states to decide, leaving many gay couples unable to marry. The President not only expanded marriage equality nationwide, but expanded the rights given to American citizens by the United States Constitution.
As George W. Bush left office in 2009, he left the nation in a disastrous recession which crumbled the American economy and housing market, as well as leaving countless people jobless. It was Barack Obama’s duty to fix this problem, and he was determined to do so. When Obama entered the office in 2009, unemployment was at a startling 10%. However, today unemployment is less than 5%. This amazing statistic makes him the second best job creating President in history, after Bill Clinton. His creative policies put almost 22 million Americans to work during his two terms. This is also a likely result of Obama’s $787 billion dollar stimulus package, which was approved by Congress in February of 2009. The package, besides creating jobs, also cut taxes, extended unemployment benefits, funded public work projects, and ultimately ended the dreaded recession of 2008.
Obama also made the country a healthier place by putting together and passing the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” on March 23, 2010. The act revolutionized American healthcare, and brought the US one step closer to universal healthcare. In a country where health insurance is privatized and quite expensive, many people in America just can’t afford health insurance. However, Obamacare helped millions of low-income citizens receive and afford health care, enabled preventive care (medical treatment before a condition becomes serious) and urged companies to provide insurance for employees. Today, many millions more people are insured than were insured for health in 2009.
Thankfully, President Obama was one to care for climate change and the environment. Besides announcing carbon reduction regulations in 2014, which are in effect until 2030, Obama helped organize and lead the renowned International Climate Agreement. Negotiated in Paris in December of 2015, the agreement is among 196 countries worldwide (including China, world’s largest emitter of CO2 gases) who have agreed to increase carbon trading and reduce carbon emissions. Members of the treaty have also decided to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Besides this, Obama has set aside land during his presidency to create 23 national nature monuments, more than any other President, and created the world’s largest ocean reserve in 2016, off the coast of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
Barack Obama’s successes don’t only extend to domestic accomplishments. During his two terms, he has made countless paramount contributions to American foreign policy. Besides lifting cold-war era embargos from Cuba and withdrawing troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq, Barack brokered a controversial yet successful nuclear peace agreement in 2015 between the United States and Iran. The deal effectively halted nuclear developments in Iran, in exchange for Iran being freed from UN trade sanctions. But perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of the President was the execution of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin-Laden, who had claimed responsibility for 9/11 and numerous other terrorist activities targeted against the United States. Bin-Laden’s death finally brought an end to America’s fight against Al-Qaeda, and lastly but perhaps most crucially brought justice to the families of those who passed in the War in Afghanistan, and the 9/11 attacks.
Ranging from nationwide same-sex marriage to Osama Bin-Laden’s death, one could certainly say that President Barack Obama has left his impact on America and the world. However, the single most undeniable fact of this extraordinary man is his demonstration that an African American is able to become the President of the United States. Born in a country built upon the hard labor of slaves, he has achieved what was once thought impossible by the founding fathers of this nation. And after being elected as a black man into the highest office in the nation merely 45 years after segregation was found illegal, one can only imagine what feats are left to be accomplished in the future. Obama has earned his place in American history as a remarkable President who has left an unforgettable legacy.