This post was authored by Peter Martuneac
Eight years ago, then President-elect Barack Obama made sweeping promises of “hope and change.” Guantanamo Bay was going to be closed. There would be no more wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Health care was going to be made affordable to all with no negative side effects. Gone would be the Bush-era economic recessions (never mind that it was Bill Clinton’s Community Reinvestment Act that helped create the bubble in the first place by forcing banks to give bad home loans that would never be paid off).1 Policing the world and intervening in every conflict would be a shameful relic of our past.
It’s practically cliché to make the joke that in reality, we ended up with no hope, and only (pocket) change.
I wanted President Obama to succeed when he was sworn into office, just like I want every American president to succeed in making our country stronger, richer, and freer. But if we are to look back on President Obama’s legacy objectively, we see a colossal failure of this administration in delivering on any of its grandiose promises
Those of us who can remember watching the 2008 presidential election unfold can remember the closure of Guantanamo Bay being a cornerstone of Obama’s campaign. Eight years later, it’s still open and business is a-boomin’. He’s instead emptied out the prison quite a bit (and some of those released have been confirmed to be back on the battlefield), with the most infamous case being when he released five dangerous Taliban commanders in return for one American traitor whom Obama praised as a hero.2
Speaking of the Taliban, Obama recently deployed 300 US Marines to counter their surge in Helmand Province, Afghanistan,3 a place where I spent time fighting the Taliban in 2011. The war in Afghanistan has been going on for 15 years, and it seems that Obama is hardly even privy to its ongoing existence, much less working to end US involvement there. As for Iraq, Obama has again merely carried on Bush’s legacy by deploying thousands of US troops there to fight ISIS.
The “Affordable Care Act,” far from curing our healthcare woes, has served only to exacerbate the problem. It has been an unmitigated disaster that has forced people to find new doctors despite Obama’s promises to the contrary, pushed premium costs through the roof, and has even harmed employment in some industries. Some of the nation’s biggest health insurers have largely abandoned the ACA due to its problems, leaving countless people out to dry in the health insurance market. The ACA’s defenders insist that millions more people being insured mark it as a success. What they ignore is that this was done by putting the government gun to everyone’s head and forcing them to be insured, hardly laudable and heinously unethical.4
When when speaking about the economy Obama generally ignores the fact that the recession of 2008 was due largely to liberal policies of the 80’s and 90’s. And while the economy is certainly recovering under Obama, it is moving at a tremendously slow rate – the slowest since the 1940’s, to be more specific.5 So any claim that Obama saved us from Bush’s economic disaster or that we are significantly better off than we were eight years ago is dubious at best, especially when one considers the eerie specter of the student loan bubble, skyrocketing national debt & healthcare costs, among other problems – all of which are a result of leftist policies. 6
The last facet of Obama’s legacy that I will address is the most disheartening. In foreign policy, Obama betrayed his inexperience, his incompetence, and his warmongering spirit. Despite being a Nobel laureate, Obama has bombed seven different countries,7 oversaw an airstrike that blew up a Doctors Without Borders hospital,8 and his now infamous drone policy, a major threat to our constitutional freedoms, is the cause of countless innocent deaths, including at least four American citizens.9 From his “red line” gaff over the Syrian conflict10 to provoking Russia by deploying thousands of US troops to Russia’s neighbor Poland,11 Obama has shown complete ineptitude and an attitude that is every bit as arrogant and hawkish as his predecessor’s.
This is only a cursory glance behind us at the road of broken promises which Obama took us down, though of course there are many other disappointments that could and should be discussed at another time. Certainly, he had a small handful of successes as our president, like the beginning of normalizing relations with Cuba and signing the Clay Hunt Act into law. But none of these minor achievements can make up for the monumental failure of Obama’s assurances to bring hope and change to the nation. Overall, the 44th POTUS has been more like the 43rd than his supporters would care to admit. Obama’s America looks little different than Bush’s America, and that is no coincidence.