Nov. 1 means weâ€™re just one year away from the next presidential election. The state primaries will be starting soon, and we can all sit back and enjoy watching as the circus that is the GOP race for the nomination unfolds.
When the subject of national politics comes up, people inevitably ask what I think about President Obama and the job that heâ€™s done.
I was an adamant supporter of Obama in 2008. I canvassed. I called. I gave money and proudly rocked a bumper sticker on my car. Needless to say, I bought into the â€œhope and changeâ€ mantra as Iâ€™m sure many of you did, too.
I completely understand why people have been disappointed. The unemployment rate is stuck at around 9 percent, the economy is still struggling to find traction, weâ€™ve been engaged in so many wars and foreign conflicts theyâ€™re hard to keep straight and we still havenâ€™t addressed some of the most glaring domestic issues such as immigration.
The list could go on and on. Naturally, the president is going to take the heat when there are so many problems that donâ€™t seem to be getting any better.
But you know what? This time next year, Iâ€™m still going to vote for Obama.
Obama has enacted a great deal of reform in the face of unprecedented obstructionism and opposition from the far right. While filibustering is nothing new, Republicans in the Senate have shattered the record for using this tactic by utilizing the method every step of the way.
â€œThe numbers are astonishing in this Congress,â€ said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University in an interview with the Huffington Post. â€œThe filibusterâ€¦ is alternately blamed and praised for wilting President Barack Obamaâ€™s ambitious agenda. Some even say itâ€™s made the nation ungovernable,â€ he said.
An â€œungovernableâ€ nation is pretty much what weâ€™ve got now. Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low, and the constant obstructionism, hyper partisanship and political posturing are the source of votersâ€™ malcontent.
In this political atmosphere, itâ€™s remarkable that President Obama has been able to accomplish anything. While the list of Obamaâ€™s failures is substantial, his list of accomplishments is more impressive.
Consider that Obama:
- Overturned the Bush-era limits on accessibility of federal documents and ordered the White House and all federal agencies to respect the Freedom of Information Act, fulfilling his campaign promise of transparency. Heâ€™s also held open meetings with Republican leaders, despite their claims of a lack of access and information.
- Was instrumental in saving the U.S. auto industry. Extended unemployment benefits for one million workers. Additionally, funds from the oft-maligned bank bailouts have been paid back and are now producing business profits that are beginning to increase the countryâ€™s GDP.
- Instituted new consumer protections and banned banks and credit card companies from utilizing predatory lending and credit practices. Also streamlined the federal student loan process to save $87 billion over the next 10 years. Unveiled a new plan to ease the burden of student loans for borrowers.
- Expanded the SCHIP program to cover healthcare for 4 million more children and reformed healthcare so that 32 million additional Americans will receive healthcare coverage. The legislation also prevents insurance companies from denying coverage to individuals or family members with pre-existing health conditions and prevents lifetime limits on benefits.
- Instituted enforcements for equal pay for women (the Lilly Ledbetter Bill) and appointed two women â€“â€“ Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina justice â€“â€“ to the Supreme Court.
- Signed the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation that includes acts of violence against gays under the list of federal hate crimes. Brought an end to the militaryâ€™s horrid â€œDonâ€™t Ask, Donâ€™t Tellâ€ policy.
- Visited more countries and met with more world leaders than any president in his first six months in office, helping to restore Americaâ€™s badly damaged image abroad.
- Ended the Bush-era policy that kept soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan longer than their enlistment date.
- Ended the blackout imposed on media coverage of the return of fallen US soldiers and war casualties. Ordered better body armor to be procured for US troops and funded new Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles, making troops less vulnerable to roadside explosives.
- Ordered that conditions at Walter Reed Military Hospital and other neglected military hospitals be improved. Authorized construction of additional health centers to care for veterans.
- Ended the Bush-era policy allowing â€œenhanced interrogationâ€ bringing the U.S. back in compliance with Geneva Convention standards and closed the secret detention facilities in Eastern Europe.
- Restarted international nuclear non-proliferation talks and reestablished international nuclear inspection protocols. Signed a nuclear limitation treaty with Russia.
- Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, Muammar Ghadafi. Need I say more?
Joe Vajgrt is a senior journalism major who obviously drank the Kool-Aid. His column usually appears on Mondays in the Collegian. Feedback can be sent to letters@Collegian.com.