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Yes, We Did

The Obama family became very popular during the Obama administration

Courtesy of Google Images

The Obama family became very popular during the Obama administration

Andrea Henriquez, Sentry Staff Reporter

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On January 20th of 2009, over a million people huddled together in below freezing temperatures to witness the inauguration of the first African American president. His 2008 signature poster with the slogan “Change we can believe in” created a sea of blue among the crowd. The air was filled with chants of his famous catchphrase “Yes We Can.”

Senior Jackson Shaffer can still remember the energy surrounding the 2008 election.

“The first thing that I remember about Obama was right at the outbreak of his election. We were in 4th grade and I vividly remember I saw one of those big red, white and blue posters. I had never seen a presidential campaign poster as artistic as that,” Shaffer said.

President Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the United States after winning over 50% of the popular vote and 365 electoral votes. He began his first term in an economy that was declining exponentially. The recession of 2008 began because of the crash of the housing market and because unemployment was slightly over ten percent.

Advanced placement government teacher Michael Palermo still recalls the economy eight years ago.

“The most important thing he did in his first couple months as president was implementing a series of policies to address the financial breakdown of the country. I think a lot of people don’t realize just how close we were to having another great depression,” Palermo said.

Obama also stuck to many other promises he made during his campaign. One of the bigger issues on his platform was health care reform. In 2010, he signed the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “ObamaCare,” into law. The bill had provisions such as that Americans can either purchase their own health insurance or they with be provided with the program based off of income and employment. It ensured no co-pays for key medical expenses such as birth control and no annual or lifetime limits on the amount of care individuals need. Despite the care it provides, there is still much opposition and controversy surrounding the ACA.

Obama additionally helped the automobile industry by continuing bailout money that began during President George W. Bush’s second term. By 2015, the auto industry was back to a stable position and paid back all the money but $9 billion which was significantly less than the $24 billion projected loss by the Treasury in 2011.

Another accomplishment that is strongly tied to Obama’s presidency is the death of Osama Bin Laden, the master terrorist of al-Qaeda who planned the attacks on September 11, 2001 that killed 2,996 Americans. Obama had the huge responsibility of deciding whether or not to send out the mission. On May 1st, Obama delivered the statement in the East Room of the White House to the American people that justice had finally been served.

In 2011, Obama announced running for re-election with the new slogan “Forward.” He beat his opponent Republican Mitt Romney by winning 322 electoral votes. In his second term, he continued to make progress in foreign, social and economic sectors.

Freshman Gillian Wagner remarked how important his second term was for the nation.

“All the impacts he made for climate change, gender equality and equal marriage [are important]. They were all really good things,” Wagner said.

All throughout his presidency, Obama had been an advocate for gay marriage rights. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled the right for same-sex marriage in 5-4 vote. He addressed the decision by saying that “today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect… that love is love.”

Palermo acknowledged the effect of Obama’s presidency in society.

“I think it was a huge step forward that we had a president that not only looked very different and came from a very different background than all of our previous presidents, but a president that was really open about talking about race and talking about how it held the country back in the past and what we need to do to change the way we regard each other, to make progress in the future. In the long run, that’s a good thing because we have to confront it, it’s who we are. I think he’s really had a positive impact in bringing those issues to light,” Palermo said.

In his last year of presidency, Obama became the first president to visit Cuba since 1928; he lifted both financial and travel restrictions such as limits on rum and cigars. He additionally signed the Paris agreement where governments promised to follow provisions to combat climate change and help the planet and used his executive power to pardon over 1,000 inmates which is more than the last 11 presidents combined.

Wagner also reflected and described Obama with one word.

“Hope. We were all hoping for a better America and for more change which happened,” Wagner said.

Today, the unemployment rate is slightly less than five percent. There are more laws protecting the environment and protecting more American citizens. Our twitter feeds are filled with retweets of the viral memes showing Obama and Biden’s bromance. He led the country in song when he sang “Amazing Grace” at the eulogy after the Charleston shooting. He spread his messages of hope to many Americans and is still ingraining it through the peaceful transition of power to president-elect Donald Trump.

44th President Barack Obama said it best at his farewell address.

“Yes we can. Yes we did. Yes we can.”

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