Conservative Column

Obama had an unstable record as president, but millennials can learn from his values

In 2008, Barack Obama ran a presidential campaign based on a promise to restore hope to the American people and create a better future. But here we are, just a few days away from the Donald Trump administration, and it doesn’t seem like Obama delivered on his promise.

We are heading into arguably the most unstable political climate that has ever existed within our country. The United States is divided by those who voted for Trump and those who did not. Millennials, more than most others, have been incredibly vocal throughout this election. But what have we learned from Obama that we can take with us into this chaotic future?

Relative to running a country, we have learned very little from Obama. He’s failed to successfully reform the health care industry. The national debt has continued to increase despite his promises to reduce it. And his actions relative to foreign affairs have been lackluster.

Many of those in the millennial generation will not share my views on Obama’s record, but when looking at the figures it is hard to dispute.

While the Affordable Care Act — or Obamacare — has helped some, it has struck a financial blow to a large population. The Iran nuclear deal was a disaster disguised as a success, as it gave Iran access to intercontinental ballistic missiles and has very weak regulations on keeping them from developing nuclear weapons. The national debt has skyrocketed to almost $20 trillion dollars, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a non-partisan think tank.

While it isn’t fair to attribute everything that has gone wrong over the last eight years to Obama, he certainly hasn’t helped with much.

But even with these failures, we as a generation have had much to learn from Obama. The man has been viciously torn apart by Republicans for eight years and he has held his composure, never failing to show respect for both ends of the political spectrum. There is always a certain amount of pressure and criticism on the president, but there is no doubt Obama faced more than most. See: Trump claiming Obama was born in Kenya.

Obama taught millennials the importance of voting, and encouraged great social progress. Under his administration, social policies have been advancing greatly — more than they would in most Republican regimes. It’s not just the president who has been a great role model, though, as First Lady Michelle Obama has also influenced the social change we’ve seen under the Obama administration.

These are the values we must hold onto during the next four years. Even as a Republican, watching the first black president hand over the office to a man like Trump is heartbreaking. Somehow, Obama has even managed to keep his cool during this transition, keeping his reputation as a class act.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I hate the way this country has been steered during the last eight years, but it would be arrogant for me to claim that there is nothing to learn from Obama. While he may not be the best leader, he is clearly a good man with great values.

Alex Deitrich is a freshman history major. His column appears biweekly. He can be reached at amdeitri@syr.edu.

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