I feel a little strange commenting on the Obama presidency and it’s impact on America and the rest of the world when it still has a about a year left in it. There are several president’s who’ve accomplished a lot for good in bad in their last year in office. President George W. Bush for example had to deal with the collapse of Wall Street and the banking system in his last year as president. But with Daniel McCarthy essentially arguing that liberalism American and otherwise is dead, I sort of feel the need to weigh in on this. Since again we still have a Center-Left president who is a Liberal, or Progressive, even if he’s a moderate one when it comes to civil liberties and freedom of choice issues.
When Barack Obama came to office, the American economy was literally collapsing. He inherited a budget deficit of over a trillion-dollars and a national debt that rose seven-trillion in the previous eight years and was a eleven-trillion when he took office. Plus the Great Recession just added to that with an economy shrinking at seven-percent and we were losing seven-hundred-thousand jobs in each of the last two months of the Bush Administration. Which adds to the unemployment rolls which adds to the deficit and debt with so many people who previously had middle-income and better jobs now receiving Unemployment Insurance from the Federal Government.
President Obama, had a lot to deal with in his first days as president, plus weeks and months. Like passing a Federal budget and the appropriations bills that the previous Congress and President Bush failed to pass. He had to get a stimulus bill through Congress to get the economy to stop dropping and buy it time to start recovering again. Which is what happened by the summer of 2009. America started creating jobs again by the spring of 2010. The President had forty-five-million Americans without health insurance and lot of those people simply couldn’t afford it. All of this on top of an economy that was falling. Which were the reasons for the auto bailouts, the American Recovery Act, the Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform. All of this legislation in his first two-years as president.
And that is before you get to the President inheriting two wars in the Middle East. With no clear end to when either one would be over and the hundreds of billions of dollars that was borrowed from other countries to pay for those wars. Seven years later is America perfect and is every problem that the President inherited completely solved with nothing left for the future president to have to deal with? Of course not, but that is not how you judge presidencies. You judge them by the State of The Union from which the president inherited to how it was when they left office. Wages aren’t as high as we would like them and the size of the American workforce isn’t as large as it was in 2008. But the economy is no longer falling. The deficit is now 1/3 of what it use to be at around four-hundred-billion dollars. In April we will have seen six straight years of job growth and by the summer seven straight years of economic growth. More Americans now have health insurance than before.
I’ve always seen Barack Obama as a progressive pragmatist. Not as a Socialist, which the Tea Party loves to throw at him, especially the Birthers. Or a Neoconservative/Moderate Republican that actual Socialists like the Noam Chomsky’s of the world see him as. I see the President as Progressive who has big progressive goals and values, but won’t fight to the death for them and come up empty. So of course he’s not Bernie Sanders. He’s someone who goes issue by issue and looks for the best solution to each issue and then looks for the best solution possible. He had a Democratic Congress for his first two years and a divided Congress with a Republican House and Democratic Senate for the next four. And his last two years he’ll have a Republican Congress. So of course he’s had to compromise even with his own party in Congress a lot.
America really at least since the 1960s with the Cultural Revolution and then add the Reagan Revolution of the late 1970s and early 1980s, has always been as Barry Goldwater like to say a big government out of our wallets, bedrooms, boardrooms and classrooms country. Which is why both Center-Left Liberal Democrats (the real Liberals) like Jack Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and yes Barack Obama, have done pretty well politically in this country. And why Center-Right Conservatives (the real Conservatives) like Barry Goldwater, Ron Reagan, George H.W. Bush and you could add Dick Nixon as well, have done well in America as well. Because they’ve tended to know where the people are and share their values and what they can accomplish politically as president. Senator Goldwater, was obviously never president, but he fitted in well with the Center-Right.
Liberalism, is not dead. Assuming Hillary Clinton is the next Democratic nominee for president and she becomes president, whether she governs as a Liberal or a Progressive, she’ll try to move the country forward from the Center-Left. And if she does that she’ll pretty successful politically. As long as she knows where she wants to go and can avoid big government and political scandals and handles issues competently. So in this universe as long as Liberals are actually that and don’t try to govern, or win office as Socialists and even Democratic Socialists, Liberals as long as they stay as who they are and stay in the Center-Left as people who believe in both personal and economic freedom and creating a society where everyone can succeed and use a limited government to help create that, they’ll do very well politically. Which is the politics that Barack Obama has always represented.
VOX: President Obama’s 2016 State of The Union in Four Minutes