With the inauguration of President-elect Trump looming, the legacy of our current president has already started to fade. Despite his many critics, President Obama has accomplished some truly incredible things in his two terms, and many Americans dread the end of his time in office.
This opinion is not merely due to his charisma and charm. President Obama has worked hard over the past eight years to accomplish ambitious goals including but not limited to: economic growth, creating and implementing Obamacare, pushing for better climate conservation and global accountability with the Paris Climate Accord and legalizing gay marriage.
Still, not a single one of these accomplishments have been universally approved of. Many people will tell you that Obama has ruined our economy, but the Obama administration has created 14.4 million jobs and the unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent in 2010 to 4.9 percent today. On top of this, the housing market has finally evened out, though the average worker’s pay has remained stagnant.
Resentment towards stagnant wages has been exacerbated by the sometimes (un)Affordable Care Act. Obamacare has been widely criticized, but there are many who are grateful for the (usually) lower prices and spending caps. The Affordable Care Act allows for far more people to be insured, puts price caps on out-of-pocket spending and makes it so insurers can no longer penalize people for pre-existing medical conditions. However, the criticism it has faced is not unfounded: Often the price is higher than desired due to a consistent lack of competition — resulting in higher co-pays for many and low enrollment rates by healthy young people.
The most unfounded criticism of Obama can be found in the area of climate change. The threat of global climate change has been looming for years, but President Obama has done more to combat climate change and take responsibility for the damage done by the U.S. than any other president. On top of leading this worldwide endeavor, Obama cut carbon emissions, made massive investments in clean energy and reduced both air and water pollution. The long term impacts of this imperative work cannot be overstated.
Despite sound criticism of most endeavors he has pursued, perhaps the most controversial of all was legalizing gay marriage. Marriage equality is a touchy subject for many people, particularly those with a strong religious influence in their lives. The Bible is often cited as argument against a same sex marriage, but regardless of dissent President Obama made the call and allowed approximately 390,000 couples to achieve the dream of marrying the person they love. Those people will remember his legacy every time they get to check “married” on their taxes and return home to a life, and a partner, that they chose.
No President has ever been universally loved, but Obama has solidified his place in history as well as in many of our hearts. He strove for eight years to make our country a better place despite constant criticism and obstruction. For everything that he achieved, and for everything that he fought for, we thank him.
Bonfiglio is a journalism junior from Oak Creek, Colorado. Follow her on Twitter @NahilaBonfiglio.