President Obama has matched and exceeded the achievements of the best Presidents. His management of the economy has outperformed Ronald Reagan’s and Obama’s ideals are as admirable as JFK‘s. However, where JFK took us to the brink of nuclear war, Obama has de-escalated the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The President also sets the tone and standard for the country, and Obama is the longest serving scandal free President in modern times. He also took the lead in championing unpopular causes; like LBGTQ and feminist rights to create an ‘Inclusive America.’ In doing so he has improved the lives of black and disenfranchised people, and for the first time, women are at the top of the agenda.
President Obama The Feminist
Before Obama, the Republicans had waged a War Against Women. They diminished Women’s rights in all the key areas, health care, reproduction, and economic security. George W Bush used policies such as ending the Equal Pay Matters Initiative to attacked women. Obama’s policies have advanced women. Unlike any of his predecessors, Obama is a Feminist in words and deeds.
The first law that President Obama signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. He then established the National Equal Pay Task Force. He raised the Federal living wage to $10.10 per hour. That is momentous in a country where two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. For every dollar, a man earns a woman earns 77¢. Unless she is black, then it’s 61¢. When a woman receives less money for the same work, it is discriminatory twice. Her lower pay reduces the amount of money she can pay into social security contributions. So her future entitlement is reduced.
Women also faced inequalities in health care. Before President Obama introduced the Affordable Care Act (ACA), around 64 million women had inadequate, health insurance. Women were denied cover for ‘pre-existing conditions’ such as a history of domestic violence and pregnancy. More than 60% of insurance plans excluded maternity benefits. They also prohibited birth control. The ACA has stopped insurance companies’ discriminatory practices. It also extended health care to 8.7 million other women.
The ACA is the most important advancement in women’s healthcare since 1965 when Lyndon B. Johnson introduced Medicare and Medicaid. Obama has also extended those allowing more women in low paid work and single mothers access to health care.
President Obama Prioritising Women
In a country where there are more laws controlling women’s reproductive rights than controlling guns, Obama made women’s rights, human rights. Obama is clear that violence against women is a man’s problem. His Stimulus Package allocated $225 million towards addressing violence against women. He revisited the Violence Against Women Act, adding federal support to crisis intervention, police training, social and prosecutorial services. President Obama also supports It’s On Us an initiative to stop sexual assault on college campuses. The list goes on but can be rounded off neatly with Obama’s creation of the White House Council on Women and Girls which allows their input into policy making.
Women have been central throughout Obama’s term. Especially black women who frame his political thought. His first victory speech was made through the eyes of 106-year-old African American Ann Nixon Cooper. America has never seen its history through the eyes of those it oppressed. His speeches often site black women, like Fannie Lou Hamer. That brings our languished history to life and illuminates the intellectual and political prowess of black women.
Obama President Of America Not Race Relations
Obama is married to a black woman and understands what it means to be black. He has made significant symbolic gestures. From endorsing Liberation Theology to letting Jacob, a black boy touch his hair, so that Jacob knew they had the same hair. President Obama understands racism. However, healing America’s deeply racist past is not his job.
As President, Obama sits in the curious juxtaposition of holding the highest office but being the disquieting symbol of race hate. He has the face of the oppressed. So, I have always found it odd that people ask Obama what he is doing about racism. To ask implies an ignorance that racism is a system of white privilege. For 500 years, white institutions have systematically oppressed black people. And yet people ask a black man what he is doing about it? Isn’t that like asking children to fix child abuse?
Obama, pursues policies that address inequality. So he revitalised the defunct Justice Department. It now zealously investigates local police for violations. He introduced the Fair Sentencing Act and granted clemency to those unfairly treated by the system. People like Clarence Aaron. Aaron, a math whiz, was a college football star sentenced to three consecutive life terms for a drug deal. Aaron was not the seller, buyer or the user. He was just there. Clemency returned Aaron to his mother after 20 years in jail. In the main, pardons are granted to black people jailed for drug offences. In contrast, George W Bush only pardoned white people for drug-related offences
Obama And Equality
Obama works to redress privilege through initiatives like extending the fair housing rules, the Affordable Pay bill and an increase in the minimum wage. Similarly, with ACA and access to health care. Whether people are working or have a pre-existing condition ACA is now available to them. Each of those policies disproportionally and positively affects black people.
Did President Obama pursue radical policies, like Reparations, to close the wealth gap? No. The Senate, dominated by Republicans, objected to all of Obama’s reasonable proposals. President Obama is the first President to be denied a hearing on his budget, rejected a Supreme Court nominee, asked to show his birth certificate and subject to over 500 filibusters in the Senate.
Obama America’s Greatest President
After 250 years of white Presidents being the first black President is a feat worthy of greatness by itself. However, President Obama succeeded in making America a fairer and more prosperous society. He focused on introducing policies that would help those most disenfranchised. Obama pursued his vision despite unparalleled draconian opposition from Republicans. He achieved the ACA, which has been a dream of the Democratic Party for 100 years. He the raised living standard. Women have an increase of $77 in their weekly median earnings.
Obama is a great leader. He inspired a generation and has achieved what no other President has; he made black people and those marginalised part of the wider society. President Obama is the epitome of black excellence along with his wife, Michelle. They are what white systems of supremacy have always denied, intelligent, dignified, profoundly humane black people. He has set new standards of decency for the office of president and altered the way that the world and black people see themselves.
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