In 1885 a special day was set aside to honor George Washington as the first president of the United States, or as he is referred, the father of this country. The reality is that regardless which Founding Fathers won the highest office in the young democracy, they would invariably be given a special place in history. Today, Presidents’ Day is more a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present, after it became part of the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act to give Americans more three-day weekends, but little regard is given to the current president regardless who they are. Throughout America’s history, there have been presidents who are singled out for special regard, but it is more due to their actions in troubled times than any extraordinarily noteworthy achievements, and unfortunately little regard is given to the men who supported them in perilous times out of love of country and the people. The current President, Barack Obama, may go down as the only president in the nation’s history who excelled in spite of hostility borne of racism, and an opposition party intent on sabotaging his presidency, the economy, and the government.
No president expects universal support for their agenda from an opposition party, but they assume that despite differences in political ideology and approach to governance, members of Congress have the nation and its people’s best interest at heart. Over the past four years, it is obvious that not only have Republicans engaged in calculated obstruction of this President’s agenda, they have made it their life’s goal to destroy the economy, inflict harm on the people, and subvert the operation of the government out of hatred for President Obama and the American people. What is telling though, is that the increased and blatant Republican attempts to destroy democracy and subvert the government are not solely because an African American man is President, but because after decades and decades of trying, they found support from people who would see America fail before supporting a Black man’s attempt to govern.
President Obama has distinguished himself for leading for the good of the nation, and more importantly, for the good of all the people regardless their socioeconomic status or party affiliation. In his 2008 victory speech, he told the crowd that he would serve all the people, and despite the vile attacks from his detractors in the GOP, conservative think tanks, and various right-wing groups, he has kept his promise. In fact, his due diligence to govern on behalf of all Americans has earned him nothing but heightened outrage and opposition from people so awash in hate that they knowingly support Republican policies that are decidedly against their best interest. Still, President Obama reaches out to Republicans in hopes they set aside their personal animus towards him and is rejected at every turn.
There is much celebration over the Presidents’ persistence and success at getting healthcare insurance reform passed and ruled constitutional by the conservative Supreme Court, and it is a historical achievement, but it was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) that saved America’s economy and averted a nation-killing depression. Despite creating millions of jobs and injecting much-needed economic stimulus to save a dying economy, it remains Republican’s favorite target for aspersion in spite of their appeals for stimulus money to create jobs in their constituents’ local economies. The measure of the President’s grace and dignity is that he has not assailed the hypocrisy of Republicans for decrying the stimulus at the same time they begged for its funds; a lesser man would never let them off the hook, but the President remains silent.
What sets President Obama above previous leaders is that he advocates for all segments of American society. Little regarded, and rarely praised, is his contention that for America to succeed and prosper as a nation, all the people must be given the opportunity to succeed. Republicans decry his “all the people” agenda as opposition to business and capitalism, but Wall Street is thriving, corporations are posting record-setting profits, especially the oil industry, and despite oil magnates the Koch brothers tripling their worth during his first term, they fund Republicans who harangued him as anti-business and worse, anti-American. Republicans have openly derided the President’s attempt to help low income and middle class Americans succeed with jobs programs, education opportunities, and equal civil rights, and for his trouble conservatives inspire ignorant poor people to deride him as tyrannical and giving “his people” special treatment at the expense of real Americans (read white religious men).
There is also little praise reserved for this President for his support for disenfranchised Americans whether they are women, gays, minorities, the poor, Veterans, and the elderly who Republicans have attacked viciously over the past two years in particularly, and for decades generally. Still, he perseveres like a man on a mission to provide every American with the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights and the pursuit of happiness regardless their religion, race, economic station, gender or sexual preference and because he is not dictator and worked within the confines of the Constitution, many on the left criticize him as caving to Republicans.
President Obama has not been all things to all the people, and there are certainly valid complaints about allowing religious leaders, corporate leaders, and conservatives to have voice in setting policy, but as he said, he is President for all the people and if nothing else, he deserves credit for being an advocate for “all of the above.” It is pathetic though, that despite his all-inclusive style of governing, the people he gives a voice in setting policy condemn him mercilessly for not implementing their agenda that robs the rest of America of their freedoms, whether economic or religious.
One likes to imagine what shape America would be in if Republicans had not adopted an obstructionist, anti-government, and anti-American agenda they plotted on Inauguration Day in 2008. Economists have opined that if only the President’s jobs programs had been implemented, instead of blocked by Republicans, the unemployment rate would be closer to 5% instead of 8%, and if the GOP supported rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure instead of more tax cuts for the wealthy, American businesses would be thriving as higher employment means higher consumer spending. One complaint against this President by his supporters who are not EmoProgs is that he does not lash out publicly against Republicans as well as explain to the people what the conservative agenda really entails, but again, that is a testament to President Obama’s character and belief that discourse is preferable to conflict.
Hopefully, for Americans who recognize that today is a day to celebrate past presidents, they will take stock of the current President’s achievements and recognize that although not perfect, Barack Obama stands out among previous presidents for myriad reasons. Of all the good things President Obama has accomplished, what sets him above the rest is that despite a concerted effort by Republicans and their corporate, religious, and racist backers, he continues successfully advocating for America. Possibly the greatest attribute of this President is that when he advocates for America, he includes every American and despite the Republican anti-government, anti-people, and anti-democracy agenda, he was re-elected because a majority of this nation’s people understand what the President means when he says “when all Americans have an opportunity to succeed, America succeeds.” They also comprehend that the President’s enemies are America’s enemies, and after four straight years of Republican assaults on the people, democracy, and equal opportunity for all, they know the only thing standing between religious oligarchy and American democracy is Barack Obama, and for that alone he deserves recognition as a great President on the day to celebrate great Presidents.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.