From Commuting Sentences To Cutting Gas Prices: It’s Time To Give President Obama His Props

July 30, 2015  |  

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Opinions vary when it comes to President Barack Obama and his administration. But one thing we can all agree on is his job is not an easy one, especially since he’s doing it without the support of his Congressional colleagues.

The United States has a history of tearing down its political leaders, especially ones of color. However, when they get old or have departed this earth, they then get a holiday, a street named after them, curriculum designed around their speeches and ideologies, and parks and buildings named after them. Similarly, when President Obama completes his term as president, he will grace the pages of U.S. history books and have a presidential library in his honor in Chicago. Thinking about these upcoming honors, as well as the talk about President Obama’s legacy and the continuous criticism, I couldn’t help but reflect. Reflect on the idea that it seems like our Black leaders are more valuable in death to people than they are while living.

Well, I refuse to wait. If you ask me, President Obama is one of the greatest commander-in-chiefs to take office, and he is past due some credit and some respect. Here’s why:

He has drastically cut the unemployment rate. For those who have never been unemployed, consider yourself extremely blessed because it can be one of the most discouraging predicaments to be in. Unemployment has dropped from 10.1 percent in October 2009 to 5.1 percent by the spring of 2015. This translates to more than 12 million new jobs.

He was the first U.S. President ever to visit a federal prison, as his administration is making it a priority to target criminal justice reform. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, weighing in at 2.3 million men and women. Of those millions of men and women, 1 million are African American. Earlier this month, President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders. According to CNN, he has commuted more sentences than any president since Lyndon B. Johnson. As President Obama put it, “I believe that at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”

The President has established a clemency initiative that allows commutation for men and women serving prison sentences for outdated laws. One common offense is marijuana possession. Too many of our people are serving major sentences–including life–for minor crimes, and President Obama has started working to make changes for a more fair and effective criminal justice system.

Walking into office, President Obama inherited the mess left over from the Bush administration. The country was in a recession, and we were at war with Iraq. President Obama ended the war, and troops have been steadily removed from Afghanistan. And I know you haven’t forgotten about Osama Bin Laden…

We haven’t had any successful attacks in the United States from international terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, aside from the Boston Marathon bombing (the Tsarnaevs were heavily influenced by the group). In fact, our international relations have improved vastly since President Obama took office. Who knew we would ever rebuild our relationship with Cuba?

Obamacare has severely divided parties, but the facts are available in plain sight. About 16.4 million Americans have insurance due to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. That’s 16 million people who can now get care from a physician, pay reasonable prices for their medication, and have the surgery they may need to save their lives. Before, if an uninsured person fell ill and needed emergency room care, taxpayers would have to pay their medical bills. The Affordable Care Act gives people access to the healthcare we need, stabilizes Medicare for seniors, and saves taxpayers billions of dollars.

Gas prices have cut into the budget of every American citizen. “You got gas money?” at one point went from a running joke to a serious plea. Average gas prices a few years ago rose as high as $4.11 per gallon during the Bush administration. A lot of the increase in price was due to the country’s dependency on foreign oil. President Obama has cut that dependency and the U.S. now produces and exports a great deal of petroleum. Whether you want to admit it or not, gas prices are continuing to decrease, with the average for regular grade gas being $2.94 per gallon.

President Obama helped to revive the auto industry; froze White House salaries; bailed out the banks; helped families save their homes; improved the housing market; increased lending to small businesses; saved over 30,000 education jobs; banned “gifts” from lobbyists to the executive branch; reformed Wall Street; ordered execs who took bailout money to pay it back; extended benefits for same-sex couples, legalized marriage for same-sex couples; established a White House Council on Women and Girls; repealed “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”; reestablished a partnership with NATO; released Bush torture memos; banned Bush torture policies; improved veterans’ services; increased student financial aid; reformed the student loan and loan forgiveness program; and oversaw expansion in K-12 schools nationwide. And the list goes on.

Yet in our community you will always hear “What has Obama done for Black people?”

Everything.

He hasn’t been a perfect president by any means, and there is much to be done about police brutality and other major issues plaguing us. But every program, every initiative, and every piece of legislation the Black community can and has benefited from. Everything from unemployment and healthcare to appointing the most diverse cabinet of men and women of both African and Hispanic descent to make up his administration. But most importantly, President Obama has carried himself with the utmost dignity and respect in the midst of a most vile and egotistical Congress. Something we should all be proud of. If there is something that you want to see happen, don’t wait for it to trickle down from the federal level. Go out into your community and work for your community. And by all means, exercise your right to vote for better city and state level officials, because that’s where change begins.

Again, if you ask me, President Obama should be commended for his tenacity and dedication to serving the very people who disservice him. He is the prototype of what an American president should be. Thank you, sir. For everything.

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