Clark Bogan | Staff Writer
For decades, it has been a running gag in the Black community to joke about if, hypothetically, the president of the United States were to be Black. Some of the jokes were about the lawn of the White House being unkempt, presidential vehicles being bulletproof, and a general degradation of the title “president”. The idea of having a Black president just seemed so unrealistic and unreachable for years.
As the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama has been the direct inverse of those stereotypical views. President Barack Obama instantly became a pop, social, and cultural sensation upon his announcement to run. In the Black community, he was highlighted in church sermons, music and television specials to the degree that trumped all presidents before him–even that of “Brother Clinton.”
From the first days of his presidency, it was apparent that Obama intended to make major changes with federal policies. He effectively relinquished Bush-administration policies by reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and reversing a Bush policy that limited the government funding of embryonic stem cell research. Furthermore, within a year of his presidency, he raised the number of women sitting on the Supreme Court to 3–the highest number in history.
One of President Obama’s most polarizing, and effective acts of legislation was the Affordable Care Act–colloquially dubbed “Obamacare.” According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of medically uninsured adults dropped by 11.4 million between 2010 to 2014.
During his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, President Obama became the first sitting president to openly announce support for gay equality and same-sex marriage. He received support from the Supreme Court when it ruled same-sex marriage legal, nationwide this past June.
Aside from domestic issues, President Obama’s foreign policy has been just as effective. The first huge success was the operation that culminated with the death of Osama Bin Laden–an objective that eluded the Bush presidency for the better half of a decade. President Obama also dramatically reduced the amount of troops in Iraq, decreasing the amount from 142,000 to 50,000.
On October 9, 2009, President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize–being the third sitting president to do so– for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” However, even his receiving the coveted award has been viewed skeptically, with the director of the Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, calling Obama’s Peace Prize a “failure.”
Placement on the political spectrum will certainly determine views of the Obama Administration’s legacy from a historical perspective. Left-wing views will undoubtedly view Obama’s presidency as a huge success for equality, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights, and for society as a whole; while right-wing views often take the opposite route, viewing his presidency as a secular manifestation of popular culture taking over politics.
One thing that set President Obama apart from other presidents, was that his presence was deeply felt within the black community. For example, in response to the Charleston, South Carolina shooting this past June, not only did Obama deliver the eulogy for the Reverend Clementa Pinckney, but he broke into a rendition of Amazing Grace. He openly condemned the “heritage not hate” culture that supported the Confederate Flag, stating that it is a “reminder of systemic oppression and racial subjugation”.
Invariably, President Barack Obama will always be the first Black president of the United States; the president that valued the rights of all people over the “traditional values” held by an oftentimes stagnant government. He is the president that gave the Black community a voice, and a genuine interest in a political system that oftentimes marginalized their views and opinions. There will never again be a president like Barack Obama.