Sep 302009
Authors: M. Alex Stephens

All too often I read in the news about disgruntled Democrats and irrational Republicans whining that Obama has betrayed them, that he hasn’t delivered on his promise of “change” but is rather a darker skinned version of a typical Washington/Chicago politician turned presidential. Beans to the naysayers, I say, beans.

Washington is a dodgy place. The “special interests” are specters that still dominate our nation’s Capitol and influence much of what goes on there. Obama is not a charmingly “Hitleresque” super hero rock god that can defeat them on a whim. Congress, the economy and the environment are among the forces out of his control that usually work to thwart any president.

Considering the present circumstances, Obama is doing a mighty decent job despite what the negative nancies (myself often included) might say. Even though Obama takes stances that I disagree with, such as entertaining the notion of sending more troops into Afghanistan, the man’s done a lot of good. Things really aren’t as deplorable as you might think.

Much positive progress has been made. Obama allocated about $60 million toward sustainable energy development in the stimulus package. Small potatoes in the larger scheme, yes, but it is still a step in the right direction of sound energy policy. He’s signed into law measures to help protect consumers from predatory credit card company policies, acts to help families save their homes from foreclosure and approved legislation to continue (and expand) providing under-privileged children much needed health insurance.

Obama has also tackled social problems. If McCain had been elected, pro-corporate pay discrimination would likely still have a foothold in our society without the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The act, which basically extends the time frame for persons to file suit for being discriminated against in their wages, was staunchly opposed by Senator McCain during its first run through Congress in 2007. Obama supported the act then, and Obama signed the act into law during the first month of his term.

Foreign relation tensions have eased under the new administration. Obama has been open, accommodating and even (gasp) apologetic when conducting goodwill tours to other parts of the world that were previously shunned by Bush. I recall some folks getting red in the face because Obama bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia. “Unheard of. Outrageous. How dare Obama be respectful to another world leader —- This is America. We don’t have to respect anybody!”

The typical American attitude of flagrant arrogance embodied by Bush is widely held by a lot of people, but it’s embarrassing, it’s pompous and it’s wrong. Are we a nation of bombastic, chauvinistic pigs or a nation of forward thinking, understanding citizens? Thank goodness our President exhibits the levelheaded, sensible, characteristics of the better half in all of us.

Don’t be so quick to point the accusatory finger of rage at Obama for our nation’s ills. The price of gas goes up, Wall Street remains greedy, violence in Iraq and Afghanistan escalates, but none of these are products of the Obama presidency. I believe Obama is doing the best he can in Washington and now more than ever he needs our support rather than our unfounded demonization of him.

Before we shout about all Obama hasn’t done, or has failed to do, we should first look at what he has accomplished. Obama wasn’t elected because we thought he could fix everything, was he? I voted for Obama because he’s intellectually elite, he’s compassionate, he’s an eloquent speaker and he represents an America that, while still flawed, is trying to better itself.

M. Alex Stephens is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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