By Lachlan McIntosh
The United States is truly entering uncharted waters as President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office and become the nation’s 45th president. Daily, Trump says or tweets something that would be unimaginable coming from any other person to ever hold the office. As this thin-skinned, Putin-defending, volatile demagogue prepares to lead the greatest country on earth, it seems appropriate to reflect on the record of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
While President Obama leaves office with relatively high job approval ratings in the mid 50 percent range, it will be his passionate detractors who may leave the more lasting impressing to observers today and historians tomorrow. Never bowing to fact or decency, Obama haters accused and (in their own minds) convicted him of every crime under the sun. From not being an actual American citizen, to being a secret radical Muslim intent on establishing Sharia law, the relentless Obama haters overshadowed what can only be described as a successful two terms in office. Taking office amid the worst economic recession since the 1930s and fighting three different wars, Obama better than steadied the ship.
A sample of Obama’s accomplishments include:
Over 15 million new private sector jobs, the largest and longest span of uninterrupted job growth in decades; the unemployment rate decreased by half from 10 percent to five percent; the stock market more than tripled; the budget deficit fell by three quarters. Deficit spending has decreased every year since 2011. Further, more than 20 million people gained health insurance from the ACA. U.S. production of clean energy such as solar, wind and biomass has doubled. The nation’s uninsured rate is the lowest in over 50 years. The American auto industry is breaking all time production records. And Al Qaeda is defeated and Osama bin Laden dead.
Despite all the scary propaganda, violent crime rates remain at historic lows and — who would have believed it — nobody came after anyone’s guns. Don’t forget the fewest number of administration scandals in decades, if not modern history.
While difficult to imagine in today’s climate of fear-based propaganda, fake news and horrible cable news networks, we may indeed remember these years as the good ol’ days. President-elect Trump and his allies in Congress have vowed to dismantle the ACA and reverse many of the policies that aided in these accomplishments.
The Obama years may also be remembered as the final era when NATO was a strong force for good and peace as Trump has criticized the alliance as “obsolete.” Trump’s allies in the Kremlin are already publicly calling on him to help reduce NATO’s presence at the Russian border, which could allow Putin to expand further into Ukraine.
Obama’s time in office was from far from perfect and this column obviously highlights the good, but progress was steady, deliberative and concrete. Per global polling, under President Obama’s leadership, America became a significantly more respected nation around the world than it was during that of his predecessor.
As American policy prepares to move in a sharply different direction, President Obama most certainly deserves our thanks and from many, their apologies as well.
Lachlan McIntosh is a political consultant based in Charleston. He consults for Democratic and independent candidates throughout the Southern United States. He is a former executive director of the South Carolina Democratic Party and aid to Governor Jim Hodges. www.mcintoshconsultingllc.com.