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Thanks, Obama

Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2017

Dave!=sigh=

Back in 2008, I was an enthusiastic Obama voter. His advocacy for Hope and Change was a message that resonated with my loathing and disgust of the political machine that's been destroying this country for decades. I wasn't necessarily convinced that anything would change for the better... he's still a politician, after all... but I was hopeful that he would at least try and improve government transparency as he had promised in his campaign.

I was disappointed almost immediately. His seat in The White House wasn't even warm before President Obama's administration was classifying documents on ACTA instead of making them public as any government promising transparency would have done. The ACTA discussion was considered a "matter of national security" which was (and still is) fucking bullshit.

Obama and I were off to a bad start.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

But I kept telling myself anything was better than MIA/POW traitor John McCain and the shockingly idiotic Sarah Palin... even though a part of me wondered if that were true. Sometimes you're better off with the devil you know, and I had come to know the devil that is John McCain very well through my MIA/POW advocacy.

This is not to say that I didn't respect and admire Barack Obama as a person. Despite my many disagreements with how he ran things, I honestly think that he felt he was doing his best to represent the American people both at home and abroad. Needless to say, being President of the United States of America is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but President Obama always seemed to handle it with a grace and humanity that belied the horrendously difficult decisions he was called to make every day. He's a true leader who inspires people, which wasn't easy when his political rivals were determined to fight absolutely everything he tried to do and smeared him with hate and lies every single day.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

When it came to his re-election, I went candidate shopping. President Obama had proven a disappointment when it came to transparency and lobbyist reform, so maybe there was somebody else willing to take up the cause? My favorite GOP candidate was Jon Huntsman Jr., but he was (predictably) eviscerated by his own party, leaving us with Romney/Ryan... both of whom I loathed. Instead of voting for Obama as I had done in 2008, I ended up voting against Mitt Romney in 2012.

And so... another four years of President Obama. Maybe since he didn't have to worry about running again, he'd get around to his promises from the first time around?

Not so much.

If anything, government transparency worsened as Obama's administration ramped up drone strikes, expanded spying on American citizens, and made an overall heinous mess of foreign policy that was bad in ways even his most fervent detractors never saw coming. My opinion of President Obama took a dramatic downturn. Partly because I could not grasp how he was failing so badly... but mostly because I didn't understand why he was failing so badly. Sure, Republican opposition to absolutely everything made Obama less effective than he could have been... but things going sideways everywhere from Syria to Israel was clearly in his court.

And yet...

Despite it all, I still liked the guy. Probably because he made it so difficult to dislike him...

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama has always been warm, funny, kind, genuine, and, in so many ways... patriotic... in his service of the USA. Yes, he did some decidedly unpatriotic things, but I'm saying that as an outsider looking in. I don't know what he knows or what information he had that compelled him to make those decisions I didn't agree with. All I know is that there is no doubt Barack Obama cared for his country. And he did so even when his country didn't love him back. When they questioned his citizenship. When they said he was going to declare martial law, round everybody up, and put them in FEMA camps. When they accused him of planning to take everybody's guns. When they labeled him a Muslim terrorist. The list goes on and on. And yet he ultimately managed to rise above it all and become a great president. A few of my favorite hits...

  • Dramatically improved America's image in foreign lands. As a world-traveler, I am so very grateful for this. After being in the toilet from Bush missteps for years, I didn't have to be quite so embarrassed to be American abroad.
  • Expanded broadband internet access and promoted net neutrality. The internet is an equalizing force that must be made easily available and provided free from interference by assholes for everybody. Period.
  • Improved support for our veterans. I argue he didn't go far enough, but Obama made big moves to support those who served their country, cutting veteran homelessness in half.
  • Repealed "Don't Ask Don't Tell." LGBT Americans have every right to serve their country the same as anybody else. This was a long time coming.
  • Aided in economic recovery, growth, and job expansion while working to reform Wall Street so they don't fuck us over quite so heinously next time and wipe out any gains we make in economic recovery, growth, and job expansion.
  • Salvaged the US auto industry, creating not hundreds... but thousands upon thousands of jobs in the process. Though I'm not a fan of this kind of government intervention, at least this time it was intervention for good!
  • Advocated for green initiatives in many areas. His efforts to support science and combat global warming, reign in pollution, and promote resource efficiency made the US a global leader in leaving a better planet for future generations
  • Took a stand on hate crimes by introducing new legislation. While the concept of "hate crimes" is controversial, I support any measure that aims to stem the tide of violence against people because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any disabilities they might have.
  • At least attempted to do something about the sad state of health care in this country. Yes, it ended up being a mess and I still support single-payer reform to keep asshole insurance companies from destroying affordable care... but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and I can't fault him at least trying.

Of course his biggest accomplishment is probably serving two terms without some outrageous personal scandal erupting... quite a feat for a politician!

My admiration for President Obama is only eclipsed by my pride for our First Family. Michelle Obama was the epitome of beauty, style, grace, and heart. She used her position to advocate for those Americans who needed it most. Whether it was veterans in danger of becoming homeless with the Joining Forces Initiative... or children being inundated with unhealthy lifestyles and foods with the Let's Move! Campaign... or girls who were excluded from education around the world with the Let Girls Learn Initiative... our First Lady put in the work to improve the world. That she was also a mother to two wonderful girls who represented their country beautifully (even under the most heinous of circumstances) is just the icing on the cake. When it comes to a First Family, we really lucked out. My heartfelt thanks to all of you for your service.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

And, naturally, the past eight years wouldn't have been the same without "Uncle Joe" Biden by his side. I never gave much thought to the Vice President all these years, but all that changed when I started reading about his tragic history... a history so devastating that I can't fathom how Biden continued to function, let alone serve his country. That such an enduring friendship between President and Vice President managed to come of it is remarkable given the toxic state of American politics (and is a friendship deeper and more heartwarming than I could have guessed). Many thanks, Mr. Vice President.

President Obama Photo by Pete Souza
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

And so...

We may have had our differences over the years, but that in no way diminishes my appreciation, gratitude, respect, and love for President Barack Hussein Obama, 44th president of The United States of America. I suspect that I will miss you every single day for the next four years.

Probably longer.

From the bottom of my heart... thanks, Obama.

Tags: , ,
Categories: News – Politics 2017Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. CD says:

    Indeed. #ThanksObama

  2. Michelle says:

    Nicely said.

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