With the GOP primary season firmly underway and Congress more unpopular than ever, 2012 will turn out to be one of the most tumultuous years in recent political history. Two weeks ago, PolicyMic pundit Jesse Merkel wrote that President Barack Obama should not run on his record if he wants to be reelected this year. I disagree. While Obama has not enacted his campaign promises in full — no other president has done so either — Obama can indeed run on the successes of his administration and has many achievements to tout, especially those in national security.
It should be a given that Obama has to run against the so-called “Do Nothing” Congress. With congressional approval ratings at an all-time low and congressional Republican approval ratings worse than Obama’s, there is nothing wrong with drawing contrast between you and your political opposition. This is a good stategy, given that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has admitted that his number one priority is making Obama a one-term president, rather than trying to find common legislative ground.
No president, Democrat or Republican, fully realizes their administrative goals once they reach office. Obama indeed failed to close Guantanamo, end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy, and pass cap-and-trade. However, there are achievements that are worthy to note in regards to national security, healthcare, and the economy.
Obama has quite the national security record: Osama Bin Laden is dead; Anwar al-Awlaki is dead too; the long war in Iraq is over; and the president signed the START treaty with Russia to reduce nuclear arms. Obama was also able to formulate a successful role for the U.S. in Libya, which ultimately destroyed Muammar Gaddafi without putting U.S. troops on the ground. What’s more, Obama has imposed the toughest sanctions of any administration on Iran to prevent nuclear proliferation, an effective strategy which even Iran has admitted has hurt them and caused further international isolation.
As for that dreaded health care law, patients will no longer be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, something vital to the care of people with disabilities. Millennials will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 (something that will make someone’s quarter life crisis a little less daunting). Obamacare also requires that insurance companies disclose how much of a customer’s premium goes towards care. For a compelling testimony on how Obamacare has directly affected an individual’s life for the better, click here.
In regards to the economy, the most critical issue in this election cycle, Obama passed the stimulus of 2009, and the Congressional Budget Office declared that 3.7 million jobs were created as a result. Although it is not popular to say that Obama’s stimulus kept the downturn of 2008 from becoming worse to the point of an economic depression, it is certainly true. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is now underway, banks can no longer participate in proprietary trading, and shareholders of publicly traded companies now have a say for executive pay levels. While unemployment is at a three-year low of 8.5%, the trend of employment gains are positive. Who knows how much lower that statistic would be if Obama’s American Jobs Act actually passed. Gene Sperling of the Wall Street Journal certainly believed it would have helped create 1.9 million jobs and aid overall growth.
While Merkel rests his article on Obama’s approval ratings, dreaded legislation, and a few broken promises, I believe the president does have a legitimate record to show for himself during this election. If Obama hopes to win, he must emphasize the good parts of his record in an honest manner. By drawing contrast between him and his opposition, the American electorate will have a clear choice coming this November.
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