How Will History View President Obama's First Term?

Although Republican presidential hopefuls like Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney call him the “most dangerous president of our lifetime” and claim four more years of his presidency would be catastrophic, President Barack Obama’s first term included major successes that will forever be engrained in our country’s history. The challenges that faced our president upon his arrival to the White House were enormous. Among the millions of problems presidents normally face, the economy was in a deep recession and two wars consumed our resources. But somehow, he managed these problems at historic proportions.

The Iraq War was a black hole. After almost $1 trillion was sucked into the war, and 4,500 troops were killed and another 32,000 wounded, Obama finally ended the conflict. This event will be marked in history books forever, as Obama fulfilled a promise made in his inaugural speech: “We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people.”

Health care has been a long fought battle in America. From former President Teddy Roosevelt calling for a universal health care system in 1912 to President Lyndon Johnson signing Medicare and Medicaid into law in 1965, health care has been a much talked about issue throughout our history. Finally, in March 2010, Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act to reform the American health care system. This act impacts a huge amount of citizens, including the expansion of coverage to thirty-two million Americans. The lowering of costs will also make care more affordable for those who already have health care. Health care companies will be more regulated, too, making sure they are spending more of their money on you. This historical change of our health care system will be looked at as a major accomplishment for many years to come, highlighting the new thought process of our country in the 21st century. 

Obama also achieved historical success in the War on Terror. On May 2, 2011, Obama made the decision to go ahead with a mission to kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Achieving this seemingly impossible goal dealt America’s largest and most deleterious blow to Al-Qaeda. Now, descriptions of the horrendous attacks on 9/11 will be able to include the fact that America took action and gained revenge against its attackers. 

The economy was plummeting to lows not seen for decades in 2008. America was losing over 700,000 jobs a month, banks were closing, houses were being foreclosed at unimaginable rates and the stock market was on an unstoppable downward spiral. The president combated the economic problem first with the Recovery Act, which worked to save and create jobs, as well as “spur economic activity and invest in long-term growth,” and “foster unprecedented levels of accountability and transparency in government spending.” Then, President Obama saved what economists argue as the center of the American economy, the automotive industry. Today our economy is beginning to show signs it is on the rise. After GM and Chrysler almost completely collapsed, they are making money and have even paid back their loans to the government. President Obama said in his State of the Union, “We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.” The S&P closed at 1370 on March 9, 2012, almost exactly three years after its low of 683. Obama undoubtedly reversed the recession and allowed for growth to happen.

As history books will be written, the first term of Barack Obama’s presidency will not be overlooked. His first term won’t only be recognized by the historic milestone of having the first African-American as the leader of our country, but it will be seen as an era of accomplishment.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Elliot Friar

I just really enjoy politics and pop culture. Follow me: @elliot_friar.

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