Obama: Yes, he did.
As his presidency comes to an end, Americans reflect on the past years under President Obama.
January 25, 2017
January 20, 2009 was a day some of our founding fathers had envisioned when they set an experiment in governance in motion. A black man was being sworn in to the highest public office of the United States even as some were still arguing whether or not Barak Obama was a legitimate US citizen. But there he was, holding his hand on the Bible, swearing his oath to serve, calmly ignoring the controversy surrounding the election results.
For the next eight years that same sense of calm and serene disposition stayed, despite the controversy and opposition he continued to face. He felt deeply in the American capacity for change to make life better for the next generation. That belief in hope for a better future was woven through his entire farewell speech to the nation given on January 10, 2017.
Just like every other president before him, decisions were made by a man. Some worked well, some created problems he was now charged with fixing. He didn’t spend much time dwelling on the mistakes President Bush made. Instead, he focused on doing his job, that of keeping the country moving forward.
For Obama, our democracy on which the country was built is in a state of motion. As he stated in his farewell speech, it “is in a constant widening of our founding creed, to embrace all, not just some.” It is why he asked Congress to consider guaranteeing affordable health care for every American. It was the driving force behind securing rights and protections for the LGBT community.
If he was pushy on his agendas, it is because he is passionate. He would see the faces of the working class, the waitress who worked too many double shifts, the factory worker who was unemployed and he would feel their pain. These people live in America, the richest country in the world, with the greatest opportunity for its people, and holds the greatest economic potential for its citizens. This only holds true if it recognized the greatest gift it has ever been given, wrapped in these inalienable rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. He strove to help people to see this gift was going to work only if it was available for every American.
He was not perfect, no man ever is. He made decisions that, in retrospect, could have been handled better. But like every president, he can only do with what is before him. But he never lost sight of why those decisions must be made. The Oval Office never asks for a perfect man to sit in it, it only asks for one to serve and that he did every day with his whole heart.
Even in the sunset of his service he was pleading for people “to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given, to continually to try to improve this great nation of ours because for all our outward differences, we all, in fact, share the same proud title…citizen.”
He will leave office as he entered, with grace and dignity. He leaves with a head still held high, holding the hands of his best girls, saying “Yes, we did. Yes, we still can.”