What better time to celebrate the successes of our first black American president than on the 154th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, turning the Civil War into a war for freeing the slaves.
“Believing in what this country might be” was the essence of the campaigns and the two-term presidency of Barack Obama. Joining the ranks of great presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, President Obama has been one of the best presidents ever. November 4, 2008 will forever remain “the day change came to America” with the election of the nation’s first black president. And “they said this day would never come.” Considering our nation’s unspeakable crimes due to slavery, Jim Crow and institutional racism, this historic event should have been a day all Americans felt a great sense of pride and patriotism, leading us to greater healing and reconciliation.
Being a president for all the people, President Obama has given meaning and purpose to our founding principles, demonstrating “ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people.” In particularly, President Obama has been driven by the American ideal to form a more perfect union, coming into office believing that American values will lead the way. Additionally, he proclaimed, “Yes we can to justice and equality. Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.”
Viewing government as a positive and creative force, President Obama has been a man of action, hoping to make our country’s future brighter, especially when it comes to building a future for our children. While explaining part of his motivation for seeking the presidency, Obama declared, “I run to give my children and their children the same chances that someone, somewhere gave me. I run to keep the promise of the United States of America alive for all those who still hunger for opportunity and thirst for equality and long to believe again.”
With President Obama’s Administration ending in about three weeks, he seems to be getting the credit he deserves. In a recent poll, over 70 percent of the American people feel that Mr. Obama has had a fair to great presidency, with only 23 percent saying he has had a “failed” presidency. At his last press conference just before Christmas, the President said emphatically, “We are better off,” while making the case for his legacy.
During President Obama’s eight years in the White House, great strides have been achieved ranging from his economic successes, aimed at recovering from the Great Recession; health care reform, providing insurance to over 20 million Americans; pay equality for women; progressive immigration orders; a historic nuclear deal with Iran; and progress on gay rights, including marriage equality.
Just imagine if there had not been an obstructive Republican Congress, but one willing to support President Obama in solving the nation’s problems. Hopefully, he will continue to help serve America in the same spirit he has tried to perfect this union.
Larry Sutton is a retired school teacher from Clinton High School.