There has been some discussion here on Elk Grove Patch about how disappointed some people are who voted for Barack Obama in 2008. In some areas, I share that frustration. There is so much more he could have done. Should have done. But, I offer this as a defense against the suggestion that we would have been better off with somebody else in the Presidency over the last four years. Particularly, if the alternative is his current opponent.
Imagine a world in which Mitt Romney was President in 2008.
1) The auto bailout wouldn’t have happened. The impact would have been the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. Some “experts” claim job losses in the millions, but I find that hard to believe. Regardless of the estimates, America’s auto industry most likely would have disappeared, taking hundreds of thousands of jobs, not just with the auto companies, but with the suppliers. Imagine the consequences for the economy if those losses had been added to the losses in other sectors. Entire swaths of the upper Midwest would have been decimated.
While we’re on the subject of jobs, since Barack Obama became President, almost 4,000,000 new private sector jobs have been created. That’s not an incredible number, but interestingly enough, the biggest driver of unemployment over the past several years has been the loss of public sector jobs, brought about by the squeeze in revenues caused by Republican unwillingness to raise revenue to continue funding government programs.
2) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would not have been repealed, the federal government would still be defending the Defense of Marriage Act, and a sitting President would not have spoken in favor of gay marriage. Yes, he took too long to take some of these steps, but he did eventually take them. In any world, can you imagine a Republican President having taken those steps in the last few years?
3) Which leads to another accomplishment. Barack Obama appointed two members of the Supreme Court, replacing two relatively reliable liberal votes on the Court. Imagine a world in which somebody like Mitt Romney would have had those appointments. Health Care Reform? Dead. Gay Marriage next year? Dead. Virtually anything that didn’t meet the litmus test of the conservative wing of the Supreme Court? Dead.
4) Barack Obama ended the prior administration’s allowance for torture. Enough said. Yes, I would have liked if he had closed Gitmo as promised as well, but given the uproar over the simple, yet apparently novel, idea that terrorists should be tried in American criminal courts, it’s understandable why he backed off on that promise. Something I will never understand – why it was so unthinkable that we should try those who commit crimes against us in our own court system. Doesn’t say much about the faith the opponents have in our system.
5) Ended the war in Iraq. Can we say Mitt Romney or any other Republican would have done that? Seems to me John McCain was opposed to ending that war. As well, Barack Obama is following through on his plans to wind down Afghanistan. Again, can we say Republicans would have done the same thing?
6) Barack Obama has done more to eliminate the threat posed by Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in three and a half years, than his predecessor did in eight years. The President who said he wanted OBL dead or alive couldn’t finish the deal. Barack Obama, quietly and without swagger, got the job done. Again a key point, this President gets things done without braggadacio, without arrogance. His actions speak louder than his words.
7) Will save $67 billion over the next ten years by getting banks out of the student loan business.
8) Has imposed tougher sanctions on Iran than his predecessor and has continued to tighten the screws. This is a perfect example of why Barack Obama knows what he’s doing. He plays the long game. Better to achieve a long-term solution than short-term bandaid. If Republicans were in charge, we may be in our third war in the Middle East in the last ten years. With Barack Obama as President, the international community (with some exceptions) continues to put the pressure on and Iran continues to suffer as a result, experiencing disruptions in its nuclear weapons program and unrest in its citizenry. Better that than another war causing American lives and treasure.
9) Signed the Lily Ledbetter Act, assuring that women have a better chance at equal pay for equal work.
10) Has led a virtually scandal-free administration, compared to the last couple of administrations. Yes, the Republicans have manufactured a scandal with Fast and Furious, but seriously, compared to his predecessor, Barack Obama’s administration has been relatively scandal-free.
11) Overturned the prior administration’s ban on stem cell research.
12) Obtained health care reform that means you can no longer be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, removes lifetime caps, prohibits insurance companies from dropping people who get sick, and significant tax credits for small businesses who offer to insure their employees, and ensures that every individual has health insurance or, if not, pays a fine (or tax, if you’d like) to help cover the costs we know will be incurred by that individual who we know will access the health care system.
There are plenty of other accomplishments. Those are my top 12.
Yes, Barack Obama did not follow through on all of his promises. Yes, he did not achieve his goal of forging a partnership with the other side to solve the problems that bedevil our country. However, a man can only do so much. In light of the intransigence of the other side – do not ever forget Mitch McConnell’s words “our top political priority will be to deny Barack Obama a second term.” Yes, that’s right, the man who at the time was the Republican leader in the Senate stated his party’s primary political objective was not to do what was right for this country, but was to defeat the President.
Ask yourself this simple question. If Mitt Romney, or John McCain, or any of the other current leaders of the Republican party were President for the last three and a half years, would any of these accomplishments have taken place? Do you seriously believe in looking at Mitt Romney’s proposals, his ideas, and his ideology we would be in a better place now? Would we be better off in a country where hundreds of thousands of auto industry jobs had been lost, where our government still committed tortured and fought multiple wars in the Middle East, where a soldier’s ability to serve was not based on his or her commitment to serve but based on his or her sexual preference, where the wealthy would have got more and more tax cuts as government revenues continued to deteriorate and the middle class continues to suffer?
I think the answer is obvious. Get over your disappointment that Barack Obama was unable to usher in a new era of cooperation and recognize that things could have been much worse.