I don’t know how to say “farewell” to President Obama. I’m going to try to be as honest as I can (which probably will mean everyone will disagree with me.) I’m confused about how to feel about President Obama. I listened to a lot of talk radio and they warned me that “Obummer” was going to ruin my life, set America on fire, and arrest me for being a conservative Pastor. None of those happened. His presidency honestly didn’t seem that bad to me compared to what any Democrat President would do (i.e. spend a lot, fight for their social issues, etc.) And at least he was pretty funny. In fact, sometimes he was downright hilarious, and honestly the “coolest” President we’ve had (I meant this as a complement but I know most would see this as unnecessary for the President and that’s fair.) However, I also watch a lot of liberal news commentators, and all the things they praise him for, he either didn’t really do or he did them in a way that the next president could just undo.
Let me share the 5 most confusing things to me about President Obama’s legacy.
But first, let me just give you a little bit of a reference point for me. I am a constitutional, libertarian, federalist. Basically I want to follow the constitution, be left alone, and if we HAVE to make a law, I’d rather it be done by the states. I have Facebook friends on all ends of the spectrum. I see friends post articles on Pizza-gate (they are 95% certain that Hilary has eaten children) and I’ve seen friends post that Trump will be the last President because he will set-up a dictatorship #makedonalddrumfagain I have no political home. I’m 1/3 Ron Paul, 1/3 Milton Friedman, and 1/3 Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson (there’s nothing political about the 3rd one, he’s just my spirit animal.)
So here’s what confuses me about President Obama’s legacy:
1) Congress Hate and Executive Orders
I have a limited view of history, being only in my 30’s, but it always seemed to me that you got behind closed doors with Congress, you fight it out for a few days, everyone comes out red-eyed and depressed, and the American people end up with compromised legislation that’s kind of “ok.” The Dems complain about what didn’t get in, the GOP complains about what did make the cut, and the American people get something slightly better than they had previously. However, from all outward appearance and inward testimony, that’s not how things worked with President Obama. You either did everything he wanted or he would go on national TV and ridicule you. I get how Democrats loved it. Finally, someone with a spine that wouldn’t compromise. (The Republicans have been salivating for another Reagan for the same reason.) The President then just wrote executive orders for the things he wanted. Whether I agree or disagree with them isn’t the point. I personally don’t think any went as far as they could have gone. I think he was trying to do things that would be popular. But we all know, if he wrote them with his own pen and paper, then the next POTUS can just white-it-out if he wants to. I feel strongly about Congress handling things like regulation, laws, taxes, and treatises. I think President Obama thought that if he just vilified the Republicans in congress he’d win more seats for the Democrats in the mid-term elections; but that totally backfired. There are more Republicans in office now than in any time since Reconstruction in the late 1800’s. What President Obama actually ended up doing is: by being the sole opposition to the Republicans, he sucked all the political air out of the room so that other Democrats couldn’t ever make a name for themselves. I know there had to be Dems that disagreed with Obama over some issue or another, but when you by-pass congress and just do executive orders, it doesn’t allow other Democrats to make impassioned speeches and come-up with creative legislation. So when Obama wasn’t on the ballot, no one cared about the “do nothing” congress – Democrats lost in droves. The only Democrats you ever heard from were Clinton, Warren, Reid, Pelosi, and Biden. They’re all over 70 years old. The young blood was all defeated in the mid-term elections. I honestly believe that immigration, prison reform, and even health care legislation could have been passed in small incremental pieces. But it was all or nothing for President Obama; and I think our country is worse off because of it. I’m confused that more Americans don’t see it that way. In the election, it seemed like the American people were wanting their candidate to be even more unwavering. Never compromise with the “devils” on the other side! So we got 2 candidates who were going to be hated by half the country. Great idea.
2) Healthcare but really I mean the Mandate
Cards on the table. I don’t get sick. I don’t know why I don’t get sick. I don’t sleep, I eat terribly, and I’m around students all day and kids all evening. Since I’ve been an adult. (From what I can remember) I went to the Walk-in Clinic 4 times, the Dermatologist once, and my doctor for an annual physical 3 times (nope, don’t remember my doctor’s name.) I might throw up if I think about how much I’ve spent in healthcare premiums. (I personally would get a catastrophic policy with a $10,000 deductable if that was legal still.) Under the Affordable Care Act, my purpose is to pay for the healthcare of others. If you couldn’t guess, I don’t really want to do that. However, I do have compassion for those who have pre-existing conditions and couldn’t get insurance under the old way of doing it pre-Obamacare. The answer is so simple that I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. If the government wanted to take care of such people… then do it. Just set-up some government insurance program that loses a few billion each year, and cover the people whom every insurance company turns down. We would spend Trillions less by doing that, than trying to manage covering 300million+ people. Obviously the point was to eventually collapse the system and get everyone on a single payer system, but that wasn’t popular enough at the time. (I personally get why some people want it and some people don’t, and I don’t want to get into what I believe now.) I hate the mandate that requires me to buy insurance and then limits what kinds I can buy. It’s unconstitutional. And the Supreme Court calling it constitutional doesn’t change that fact. But because President Obama didn’t pass the Affordable Care Act properly, it can be un-done by the Republicans. In all honesty, Obamacare so strongly affects the way I view President Obama. I wonder how differently I would have viewed him without that piece.
3) Drone Strikes and Data Collection
This drives me insane. If President Bush did unilateral drone strikes in sovereign countries on “alleged” terrorist, the Left would have lost their minds. But they trust President Obama or just refuse to fight him or something. If we found out about all the Data Collection when any Republican was in office, they might never win an election ever again, and probably would have been impeached. I hate the double standard. But I’ll break from Republicans on this one. I am against the drone strikes. I can’t say I know how to do it right, but my guess would be you set-up a military tribunal, you present the evidence, and you either convict the terrorist or they are free. If convicted you turn the information over to the country where they are residing. The U.S. tells them we stand by ready to assist, and that country does what it wants. If we disagree with their decision, well then we cut off the $Billions$ we give them in aid (which we shouldn’t be doing to begin with, but I digress.) I totally don’t understand why the media is ok with it. It’s because Americans are ok with it, and then we wonder why the Muslim world hates us. I know there are other reasons why we are hated (some legitimate and some not), but it just seems so surreal that President Obama does this. It seems like the thing that Senator Obama would be filibustering. I feel like Senator Obama would be calling Snowden a hero if he did what he did 4 years earlier. I’m just confused.
4) Perception of LGBTQ Issues
Everyone who does P.R. for the LGBTQ community is under-paid because man they are popular right now. A majority of Americans feel guilty for being straight. After President Obama did his farewell speech I scoured the comment section like Michael Jackson eating popcorn. I wanted to know why so many are using phrases like “Greatest President Ever” and “Mount Rushmore.” I saw 3 things: 1) He’s Classy 2) He’s a Great Husband and Dad 3) He’s done so much for the LGBTQ community. I was researching for this blog. I really wanted to know what to write about. I promise, 95% or more were some variation of those 3 things. I totally agree with 1 and 2. He’s a great speaker and seems to really love his family. But what has he done for LGBTQ. He made it legal for them to be killed in military combat (I’m just being funny, relax. I mean he took away “don’t ask, don’t tell.”) Ok. He also made sure LGBTQ people could sue government contractors if they felt discriminated against. Neato. And he once had the lawn guy put in multi-colored lights to illuminate the Whitehouse like a rainbow. The SCOTUS is the one who changed laws. I think that’s it. People that objected, like I am, were told that he “brought up the conversation.” I agree he does bring things up in conversation a lot, but that doesn’t make you a Mount Rushmore President does it? Here are the real stats. Are you ready? Since the Supreme Court allowed gay marriage to be reciprocated in all states, 9.6% of gay and lesbian couples are now married. Gay and lesbian persons make up about 1.2% of the US population. So President Obama brought up the conversation so that now .001% of marriages could be had by gay and lesbian couples. That doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but I guess it’s a big deal to those that got married. But it confuses me that this was so monumentally important to America. I’m just confused I guess. There seems to be a lot going on in the world for this to be the most important issue ever.
5) Race Issues and Lies
I’m just so confused here. I know we are better on race issues since the 60’s. What I guess I was confused about is that we weren’t as good off as I thought we were in the 90’s and 2000’s. No doubt, I was simply unaware of some issues. But I thought racism was dead when we elected President Obama. I don’t know why we are here, in this place now. I don’t know how we get out. I don’t know what President Obama should do differently. I don’t know what he should have said differently. I just can’t help but feel like he could have done more. Did he divide the country more, or was he simply someone who helped reveal the division? Every political side lies about the statistics. I don’t know what’s true. I’m just confused. If President Obama couldn’t heal this and cut through the garbage, will President Trump be able to? (I just heard you snicker.) Who will? Who could? I don’t know. Charles Barkley (the economist and ex-basketball player) said something strangely profound. He encouraged all black people to vote Republican so that Democrats would have to come up with creative ways to get their vote back. That’s genius. Republicans don’t hate black people. That’s ridiculous. Republicans just think about the country as a whole – what helps the average, the mean, the total. They don’t look at any group individually, they figure if the majority in general is happy than a majority of individuals will be happy too. The Democrats on the other hand, take as many individual groups as they can, and tries to figure out what they want. They figure if a majority of individuals will be happy, than the majority in general will be happy. Well, who’s right? Both are. You need both mentalities, but instead we have competing viewpoints becoming more and more entrenched and less and less willing to work with each other. African-Americans have been particularly hurt by both policies, and it will take both the Left and the Right to stop that infliction of pain. I wish President Obama healed us racially. But no one seems to be claiming that. Maybe he can help post-presidency. I guess we’ll see.
Lastly, I want to focus on myself. I caught myself disagreeing with President Obama before I even thought about it. My reaction was to disagree. That’s wrong. That’s not who I want to be. I also realized how messed up some of my political leanings were. Joe American wants no one else from other countries to come to “my” country and take our jobs and drain our infrastructure. Joe Christian wants more people around the world to move next door to me so I can build a relationship with them and share the Gospel with them. I also did not pray enough for President Obama. That’s not cool. I’m a pastor, and I spent more time complaining about Obama than praying for His decision-making. All in all, I have some serious areas of growth when it comes to our next President.