I have defended Obama many, many times over the past 7 years, although he most likely knows nothing about it and he really didn’t require my assistance. As I became more and more aware of the Republican agenda for America I became more and more grateful that Obama was in the White House helping Democrats at least hold the line against the GOP extremists. While the right wing bemoaned the Stimulus, which was not an action that Obama did on his own I was glad that we were not going to be held to an austerity that would have prolonged the Great Recession. While the right wing lashed out when Obama did an end run around them to pass the Affordable Care Act I was glad that more people would have health insurance, that people with preexisting conditions would be covered and that certain young family members would no longer have to rely on the emergency room for medical treatment.
I can see that America is not as prosperous as it was, at least not for all of us. I have not forgotten the parade of factories that have left empty buildings all over my hometown and the number of workers who once had secure, good paying jobs who now have jobs that pay much less. My town has not recovered from the recession but they are working and the job market has ticked up quite a bit from the days when there were no jobs to be found. I know that the Obama years have helped our economy. The strides made with alternative energies alone will serve our economy and our environment well in the future.
Republicans have been aching to cut the social safety net, privatize social security, end Medicare and privatize schools. These things are all bad policy and Obama has held off these Social Darwinists for two terms now, two terms while Republicans complained bitterly and lied to the people and said that benefits are harmful. Obama has shepherded us through an era when facing up to our lingering racism has been painful and obvious, although still unresolved. Watching the heart wrenching confrontations between the police and young black folks with the seemingly tiny or nonexistant misdemeanors being met by out-of-all-proportion consequences will force us, I hope, to solve our divisions. Obama kept us calm and called for solutions. I don’t know how all of this would have played out if we did not have Obama in the White House.
Republicans vowed to block President Obama and they have done so throughout the Obama years, so much so that I often wished for a referee who would call foul and put a stop to all of the obstruction and vituperation. Obama still steadily found ways to hold back their extreme agenda and get things done. So they stonewalled in Washington, voted to repeal the ACA eighty-five million times, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, found ways to abuse traditional perks like gerrymandering to pack statehouses with Republicans and ways to set voting rights back 50 years, ways to keep Obama from appointing liberals to the courts, and still Obama did what he could for Americans day after day.
So I loved President Obama’s last SOTU address. I felt like he was Dumbledore summing things up, the good and the bad for all the students of Hogwarts whether allies or enemies. I agree that we are still a strong nation. I agree that civility is not dead, although it sometimes seems that way. I believe that we have done great things in the past, in the present and that in the future we will find a way to a new prosperity. I believe we need to work together, although I have little faith that the GOP fever has run its course. They have waited almost eight years for this moment, and even if it is not turning out quite as planned, they can taste victory. But I will miss Obama and I will not take a GOP victory as any kind of victory because we will have to do things that we will later have to undo and that will be a real waste of time for America and it may actually make our nation more vulnerable to those who hope we fail. What we must do now is elect a Democrat and, truth to tell either Hillary or Bernie will do. Better to have two good choices than fifteen bad ones.
By Nancy Brisson