Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Legacy of President Barack Obama

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The Legacy of President Barack Obama

Today, we are close to the beginning of a new decade. In our lifetimes, we have witnessed amazing historical events and new challenges. The struggle for racial equality and economic justice continues. The legacy of President Barack Obama will be debated for years and decades to come. What is true is that President Barack Obama has lived an extraordinary, interesting life. He is a man who married a beautiful, extremely influential First Lady Michelle Obama and the couple has two very intelligent black daughters (whose names are Sasha and Malia). The First Family has remained united firmly. Barack Obama is the first African American President in American history. Before his Presidency, there was 9/11. The Bush administration along with neoconservatives implement their extremist foreign policy agendas from the Iraq War (before 2003, Rumsfeld and others desired to bomb Iraq when Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11), the existence of the Patriot Act, and to its torture policies. As the 44th President of the United States, his Presidency (from 2009-2017) is marked by policies in dealing with the economic recession, the continued existence of police brutality, the complex manifestations of the war on terror, the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of social issues, climate change, and continued debates on health care. He has given numerous speeches that were progressive and he has expressed more conservative speeches on family parenting and on other matters. His Presidency has existed in ups and downs. It is greatly fair to outline what he got correct and wrong to order to designate a fair appraisal of his ultimate legacy as President. He has shown great eloquence in his speeches and a massive Republican opposition came his way. He has expressed great praise (from many quarters) and criticism (from many quarters too). Barack Obama is known to try to bridge generational, political, and racial gaps via his Philadelphia speech of 2008. He is also known to be serious about what he stands for. Therefore, the time is right to show the world about his life and Presidency, so future generations can witness the unvarnished truth. His great accomplishments and his great mistakes (i.e. continuing many of the same policies from the previous Bush administration. Obama has been viewed by the establishment as a far better manager of the national security state) will be shown here.

President Barack Obama's historic Presidency has changed the world forevermore.

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Early Life

To fully start, it is important to describe Barack Obama’s early life. He was born in August 4, 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was born at the old Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital at 1611 Bingham Street. The Honolulu Advertiser and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin announced the birth of Barack Obama. His father was Barack Obama Sr. and he was born in Kenya. He lived from 1936-1982. Barack Obama’s mother was Ann Dunham. Ann Dunham was born in Wichita, Kansas. She lived from 1942-1995. Obama’s parents met in 1960 while both of them were attending the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Barack Obama’s father was the university’s first foreign student from an African nation. Obama’s parents married on the Hawaiian island of Maui on February 2, 1961. The couple would travel across the country to take educational classes. Barack Obama lived a lot of his childhood in Honolulu, which is where his mother completed college. His parents soon divorced in 1964. Later, he also developed a close relationship with his maternal grandparents too. By 1965, his mother married Lolo Soetoro from Indonesia. In 1967, Barack Obama moved into Indonesia. In that location, he was raised by his mother and stepfather Lolo. Barack Obama lived in Jakarta during this time. Barack Obama attended the Indonesian-language Santo Fransiskus Asisi (St. Francis of Assisi) Catholic School around the corner from their house for 1st, 2nd, and part of 3rd grade. Barack Obama came into Hawaii by 1970 in order for him to visit his maternal grandparents, Stanley and Madelyn Dunham. Barack Obama’s younger sister is named Maya Kassandra Soetoro and she was born on August 15, 1970.

Barack Obama came back into Hawaii in 1971 to live with his grandparents. There, he attended Punahou School (at the 5th grade) and graduated from there in 1979. He loved basketball and he was a great people person. His mother completed her coursework at the University of Hawaii for an M.A. in anthropology in December of 1974. Ann Dunham traveled into Jakarta with May in August of 1975 while Barack Obama decided to stay with his grandparents in Honolulu to finish his studies at Punahou School for his high school years. Barack Obama had an unique childhood and he grew up in massive diversity. As found in many children of multiracial heritage, he faced insecurities and questions about his own identity during his early life.  His knowledge about his African father, who returned once for a brief visit in 1971, came mainly through family stories and photographs.

Of his early childhood, Obama writes: "That my father looked nothing like the people around me—that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk—barely registered in my mind." Barack Obama wrote that he used alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind.” His “Dreams of My Father” book describes his life in great detail. After his teenage years, he stopped using illegal drugs. He would attend parties with many African Americans too. The diversity of the culture of Hawaii most definitely influenced his ideological outlook and his embrace of the values of mutual respect and tolerance of the different races, creeds, and identities found in the human family. After high school, Barack Obama moved into Los Angeles in 1979.

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College Life

To understand the legacy of President Barack Obama, you have to understand his life. Barack Obama studied at Occidental College for 2 years in Los Angeles, California. By February 18, 1981, he made his first public speech. He called for Occidental’s divestment from South Africa (during the anti-apartheid movement). In the summer of 1981, Barack Obama traveled into Jakarta, Indonesia to visit his mother and half-sister Maya. He also visited the families of Occidental College friends in Hyderabad (in India) and Karachi (in Pakistan) for 3 weeks. He later transferred to Columbia University in New York City. He majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. During this time period of his life, he lived off campus in a modest rented apartment at 142 West 109th St. He graduated with an A.B. from Columbia in 1983. Soon afterwards, he worked at Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group.

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Community Organizer

After working in New York for four years, Barack Obama moved into Chicago. In Chicago, he became a community organizer. He worked for three years from June 1985 to May 1988 as director of Developing Communities Project (or DCP). DCP is a church based community organization. It was at first made up of eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman, and Riverdale) on Chicago’s far South Side. He was a DCP Director for 3 years. The staff grew from 1 to 14 in that timespan. Its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000. The program caused a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenant’s rights organization in Altgeld Gardens. This was during the time of Mayor Harold Washington of Chicago (who believed in infrastructure development, affirmative action, and ending patronage hiring. He was the first African American mayor of Chicago) during the 1980's. Washington won his mayoral election by forming a multiracial coalition to vote for him. Ironically enough, it would be a multiracial coalition that would vote for Obama to be President of the United States of America in 2008 and in 2012. Barack Obama worked as a consultant and instructor for Gamaliel Foundation, which is a community organizing institute. By the summer of 1988, he traveled to Europe for three weeks and to Kenya for 5 weeks where he met many of his paternal relatives for the first time. Barack Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. In an interview with Ebony in 1990, he stated that he saw a degree in law as a vehicle to facilitate better community organization and activism: "The idea was not only to get people to learn how to hope and dream about different possibilities, but to know how the tax structure affects what kind of housing gets built where." At the end of his first year he was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review based on his grades and a writing competition. In February 1990, his second year at Harvard, he was elected president of the law review, a full-time volunteer position functioning as editor-in-chief and supervising the law review's staff of 80 editors. Obama's election as the first black president of the law review was widely reported and followed by several long, detailed profiles.

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Barack Obama was elected by convincing a crucial swing bloc of conservatives that he would protect their interests if they supported him. He listened to people like he listened to poor people in the neighborhood of South Side Chicago, etc.  Richard Epstein, who later taught at the University of Chicago Law School when Obama later taught there, said Obama was elected editor "because people on the other side believed he would give them a fair shake." When he was in law school, he worked as an associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989. In that place, he met his future wife, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama. Newton N. Minow was a managing partner. Minow would introduce Obama to some of Chicago’s top business leaders. He worked at Hopkins & Sutter in the summer of 1990. Also during his law school years, Obama spent eight days in Los Angeles taking a national training course on Alinsky methods of organizing. He graduated with a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991 and returned to Chicago. He has great publicity from his election as the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He had a contract and advance to write a book about race relations. The University of Chicago Law School wanted to recruit him to join their faculty. So, they provided Obama a fellowship and an office to work on his book. He at first wanted to write his book in one year. It took longer, because the book evolved into his own personal memoir. He wanted to work without interruptions.

So, Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle Obama, traveled into Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally published as “Dreams from My Father” in mid-1995. He married Michelle Obama in 1992. They settled down with each other in Hyde Park. That is a liberal, integrated, and middle class Chicago neighborhood. It has a history of electing reform minded politicians independent of the Daley political machine. The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998; their second, Natasha (known as Sasha), in 2001. Their marriage caused them to form more links with Chicago politicians. One of Michelle’s best friends is Jesse Jackson’s daughter, Santita Jackson. Santita is the godmother of Obama’s first child. Michelle Obama once worked as an aide to Mayor Richard M. Daley.  Marty Nesbitt, a young, successful black businessman (who played basketball with Michelle's brother, Craig Robinson), became Obama's best friend and introduced him to other African-American business people. Before the marriage, according to Craig, Obama talked about his political ambitions, even saying that he might run for President someday.

Barack Obama was involved in Project Vote from April to October 1992. It was a nonpartisan voting drive that helped Carol Moseley Braun to be the first black women ever elected to the Senate. He helped to register up to 400,000 African Americans to vote in the state. His staff was made up of 10 and 700 volunteers. Crain’s Chicago Business named Obama to its 1993 list of “40 under Forty” powers to be. According to Sandy Newman, who founded Project Vote, Obama "raised more money than any of our state directors had ever done. He did a great job of enlisting a broad spectrum of organizations and people, including many who did not get along well with one another." The wealthy elite of Chicago from the liberal crowd contacted Obama. Many of them would be his supporters in his future political career. One of them would be David Axelrod who would be head of his campaign for President. The fundraising committee was chaired by John Schmidt, a former chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, and John W. Rogers Jr., a young black money manager and founder of Ariel Capital Management. Obama also met much of the city's black political leadership, although he didn't always get along with the older politicians, with friction sometimes developing over Obama's reluctance to spend money and his insistence on results. "He really did it, and he let other people take all the credit", Schmidt later said. "The people standing up at the press conferences were Jesse Jackson and Bobby Rush and I don't know who else. Barack was off to the side and only the people who were close to it knew he had done all the work."

From 1992 to 1996, Barack Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. He was a senior lecturer from 1996 to 2004. He taught courses in due process and equal protection (including the issues of voting rights, racism, and law). He joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, which was a 12 attorney law firm. It was involved in civil rights litigation and economic development. The firm worked with Chicago’s black community for years. He wanted to go into politics. He was also a lawyer. He was involved in 30 cases. He worked on voting rights cases. He worked in the Joyce Foundation. By 1995, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for a seat in the Illinois state Senate and he attended Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March in Washington, D.C.

Barack Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996. He succeeded Democratic State Senator Alice Palmer from Illinois’s 13th District. He gained bipartisan support for supported ethics reform and health care laws. He sponsored a law that increased tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. Barack Obama was a state Senator from 1997 to 2004. He was reelected in 1998. He sponsored bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained, and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations. He was U.S. Senator by November of 2004. By this time, he was an early opponent of George W. Bush’s administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq. He spoke out against the war in October 2, 2002 and in March of 2003 in an anti-war rally. In 2004, he gave his historic Democratic National Convention speech of July of 2004. It was a very eloquent speech about hope, coming together, and transcending political differences.

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U.S. Senator

Barack Obama was sworn in as a U.S. Congressional Senator on January 3, 2005. He was the only U.S. Senator member back then who was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He voted on legislation. He would resign on November 16, 2008 before he was inaugurated as President. As a Senator, he fought for immigration reform, the reduction of nuclear weapons, and financial transparency. In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor. In January 2007, Obama and Senator Feingold introduced a corporate jet provision to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007. He worked with Democrats and Republicans like Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana. He worked on many committees too.

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His Historic 2008 Presidential Campaign

On February 10, 2007, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States. He did so in the front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois. He wanted to speak at that location as it is viewed as symbolic since it was where Abraham Lincoln gave his historic “House Divided” speech in 1858. In other words, Barack Obama wanted to break down divisions and want to form a unified America. Barack Obama talked about ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, reforming health care, and other themes. Throughout his campaign, he talked about the themes of hope and change. In fact, the theme of his campaign would be "Hope and Change." Many celebrities and young people were enthusiastic supporters of his campaign. There were many candidates in the Democratic Party Presidential primaries from Edwards to Kuinich. Later, it was narrowed to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton (both Senators at the time). It was a close campaign in the beginning and then Barack Obama gained the lead in pledged delegates. The reason for this was that Barack Obama’s campaign executed a historic long range planning, better fundraising, better organizing, and a better usage of the delegate allocation rules.

On March 18, 2008, Barack Obama gave his “A More Perfect Union” speech in Philadelphia. It was historic and he shown his remarks in response to remarks made by Reverend Jeremiah Wright (ironically enough, Wright told the truth about many subjects from the evils of imperialism to the advocacy of racial justice). Barack Obama’s speech tried to appeal to both black people and white people including all Americans in general. His tone was conciliatory while acknowledging America has much to go on racial issues. In essence, the speech was about forming unity in America. Barack Obama called Wright’s comments wrong, but he realized that black people have every right to express anger at injustices. To that end, he called for the African-American community to "[bind] our particular grievances—for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs—to the larger aspirations of all Americans" and for the white community to acknowledge the "legacy of discrimination ... and current incidents of discrimination." The speech was very moderate, eloquent, nuisance, and a representation of Obama’s conciliatory tone.

Some believe that it was one big factor of him winning the Presidential election (along with the massive support among African Americans, young people, college educated people, women, other minorities, etc.). By June 7, 2008, Hillary Clinton ended her campaign and endorsed Barack Obama. On August 23, 2008, Barack Obama announced his selection of Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his vice Presidential running mate. He gave his historic speech in the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. The crowd was over 75,000 in Invesco Field at Mile High. Over 38 million people worldwide watched his speech. He made fundraising records, especially in dealing with small donations. The speech that he gave in Denver was once again very eloquent. On June 19, 2008, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976. John McCain was his Republican opponent.  They had three debates. The 2008 Presidential campaign was filled with many events. There was the massive financial crisis. Obama was slandered by reactionaries as a Muslim, a socialist, not a citizen, and other words. He was called names by racists. The Obama campaign used the Internet like Myspace and Facebook to gather and grow supporters. Barack Obama traveled to Europe and the Middle East from July 23-28, 2008. John McCain and Sarah Palin lost the election.

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Victory and History

On November 4, 2008, Obama won the presidency with 365 electoral votes to 173 received by McCain. Obama won 52.9% of the popular vote to McCain's 45.7%. He became the first African American to be elected president. Obama delivered his victory speech before hundreds of thousands of supporters in Chicago's Grant Park.

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The 2009 Inauguration

Tons of people know where they were when the first inauguration of President Barack Obama transpired. It happened in the date of January 20, 2009. I was 25 years old and I remember the event like yesterday. After his oath of office, he became the 44th President of the United States and the first African American President as well. The Inaugural theme was “A New Birth of Freedom” which was a phrase from the Gettysburg Address. It was used to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth year of Abraham Lincoln. On January 17, 2009, Barack Obama and others used a commemorative train tour from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. There were many events from the time of January 18 to 21, 2009. There were concerts, a national day of community service on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, inaugural balls, and the interfaith inaugural prayer service. There was a large audience to witness the swearing in of Barack Obama as President. There was the first ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball with free or affordable tickets for ordinary citizens. That time was a transitional era in America as Barack Obama was the first President born from the 1960’s. Also, Barack Obama in 2009 was about to deal with serious issues from the financial crisis, racism, foreign policy issues, etc.

Two committees planned by inauguration mostly. They were the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee. Money was raised to make sure that it was funded. Celebrity donors to the Presidential Inaugural Committee included Jamie Foxx, Halle Berry, George Soros, and George Lucas. There were about one million public invitations to the inaugural ceremony of Barack Obama. There was the "We are One" concert on the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009. About 400,000 attended the concert. On Dr. King’s holiday (on January 19, 2009), there was the King Day of Service to promote citizen volunteering in honor of Dr. King. Barack Obama visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center privately with the families of troops recovering from wounds sustained from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He visited Martin Luther King III to help teens in homeless shelters. Joe Biden hung drywall at a Habitat for Humanity home in N.E. Washington, D.C. Biden's wife, Jill, their daughter, Ashley Biden, Michelle Obama and the Obamas' daughters, Malia and Sasha, spent the morning at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium where they helped thousands of volunteers prepare more than 85,000 care packages destined for U.S. troops overseas. Later that evening, the President-elect hosted three separate bipartisan dinners to honor the service of John McCain, Colin Powell and Joe Biden. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden hosted a children’s concert called “Kids’ Inaugural: We are the Future” event at the Verizon Center. Many people performed and spoke from Demi Lovato, Queen Latifah, Corbin Bleu, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jamie Foxx. Michelle Obama wanted people to be engaged including children to help homeless people, visit the elderly, and write letters to U.S. troops.

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The inaugural ceremony took place at the West Front of the United States Capitol on January 20, 2009. Evangelical pastor Rick Warren delivered the invocation. Vocalist Aretha Franklin sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.” Tons of performers were in the ceremony like Itzhak Perlman, Gabriela Montero, Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, and others. Joe Biden took the oath of office from Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. Barack Obama took the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts. It occurred shortly after noon. Then, President Barack Obama delivered his address. It was a mixture of hope for the future and a realization that the recession was still upon America. Barack Obama spoke about wanting accountability and responsibility in Washington. He wanted ordinary people to be involved in the democratic processes of democracy. The speech was critical of former Presidents too, especially George W. Bush. The 21 gun salute existed from the military. Poet Elizabeth Alexander then delivered the inaugural poem, "Praise Song for the Day", and civil rights activist Joseph Lowery, minister of the United Methodist Church, delivered the benediction. Afterwards, a luncheon took place.

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Then, the inaugural parade came about in Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walked in the parade to wave hands and celebrate. They traveled on Pennsylvania Avenue. Vice President Biden and his wife Jill walked the parade route at several points with their children Beau, Hunter and Ashley. The parade lasted for 2 hours and many marching bands were a part of it. I saw the parade on television. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended 10 official inaugural balls during the evening of January 20, 2009. Barack Obama wore a tuxedo and Michelle Obama wore a white, one shouldered sleeveless gown. It was designed by then 26 year old NY based designer Jason Wu. The famous part of the events was the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. It was held at Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama danced while Beyoncé sang her rendition of Etta James’ classic “At Last.” Beyoncé Knowles-Carter was very emotional at the end of her powerful singing. Tons of people attended the historic inauguration. Over 1 million people attended the inaugural ceremony.  Kenya, the United Kingdom, Israel, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia, and other nations had people who celebrated the inauguration too. After January 20, 2009, the new era began and President Barack Obama’s future as President has been filled with the good things that he has done and the mistakes that he has made. His historic Presidency began in the midst of celebrations and high hopes.

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The First 100 Days

The first 100 Days of the Presidency of Barack Obama lasted from January 20, 2009 to April 28, 2009. On the eve of President Barack Obama's inauguration in January 2009, Obama's popularity reached 80 percent, and large numbers of Americans had sky-high expectations for the incoming administration. A USA Today poll showed that seven of 10 people believed the country would be better off after Obama's first term. Many folks had high hopes of him of being a progressive champion for the people. Yet, as time goes on, we see him as a person who governs mostly from the center-left including certain aspects of his foreign policy being not progressive at all. Early onward, he quickly gathered support to support the economic stimulus package. The law was the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. I agree with the tenure of the law, because the Great Recession harmed millions of lives and emergency assistance is necessary and justified to help those Americans suffering from economic turmoil. The bill passed the House in late January and it was passed in the Senate on February 10, 2009 by a 61-37 margin.

Like many laws, there is a catch. The stimulus law allocated 40 percent of the money to tax cuts and credits to individuals and businesses. It was not a direct government jobs program modeled on the 1930’s era Works Progress Administration. The stimulus package stopped a massive plunge into a worse depression, but the unemployment rate continued to increase for numerous years until later on in his term. President Barack Obama continued to advance the Bush team’s bailout of Wall Street banks. He reappointed Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates to run the Pentagon. Using only executive action, Obama could have unwound the Bush administration bailouts for the bankers and pressured bankruptcy judges to reduce or wipe out mortgage holders' debt. At the very least, he could have refused to allow executives from the bankrupt insurance giant AIG to collect their multimillion-dollar bonuses from the taxpayers' dime.

Obama stated that he should not be judged by his first hundred days: "The first hundred days is going to be important, but it’s probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference." I do agree with President Barack Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which is great legislation. It relaxed the statute of limitations for equal pay lawsuits and fights against gender discrimination. President Barack Obama signed into law the expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP). It gives benefits to millions of working families. He signed new ethics guidelines designed to curtail the influence of lobbyists on the executive branch. He ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. By the end of the first 100 days of his Presidency, 65% of American approved of how Obama was doing and only 29% disapproved. According to Gallup's First quarter survey in April, President Obama received a 63% approval rating. Media coverage was extensive of his Presidency. During this time, he also appointed his administration cabinet members. Many members of his early cabinet were Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, etc. On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be increased by 17,000 new troops by the summer. This comes after a recommendation from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, which shows an anti-progressive policy. On March 10, 2009, he called himself a New Democrat and a pro-growth Democrat supporting free  trade (which is about neoliberalism). President Barack Obama promoted the goal of a nuclear free world on April 5, 2009.

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Domestic Policy Developments in his First Term

On some social issues, President Barack Obama was the most progressive on social issues in American history. His domestic policy executive policies have been very clear. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 to deal with lawsuits and promoting equal pay. He supported embryonic stem cell research and developed strict guidelines on the research. He appointed two women to serve in the Supreme Court. One was Sonia Sotomayor. She was nominated on May 26, 2009 and she replaced the retiring Associate Justice David Souter. After discussions and a vote, Sotomayor was confirmed on August 6, 2009. She was the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice in American history. Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan on May 10, 2010 to replace the retiring Associate Justice John Paul Stevens. She was confirmed on August 5, 2010. This caused three women to be on the Supreme Court simultaneously, which is the first time this has existed in American history. On LGBT issues, Barack Obama is the most pro-LGBT rights President in U.S. history. On October 8, 2009, he signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a measure that expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. On October 30, 2009, Obama lifted the ban on travel to the United States by those infected with HIV, which was celebrated by Immigration Equality. He repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in December 22, 2010.

On March 11, 2009, Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls, which forms part of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, having been established by Executive Order 13506 with a broad mandate to advise him on issues relating to the welfare of American women and girls. The Council is currently chaired by Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett. Obama also established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault through an official United States government memorandum on January 22, 2014, with a broad mandate to advise him on issues relating to sexual assault on college and university campuses throughout the United States. Co-chairs of the Task Force were Vice President Joe Biden and Valerie Jarrett.  The President gave loans to the troubled automotive industry (to companies like General Motors and Chrysler). He signed into law the Car Allowance Rebate System, known colloquially as "Cash for Clunkers", that temporarily boosted the economy.

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There have been debates about the debt ceiling too. The unemployment rate in America reached a peak of 10 percent in October of 2009. Later, it decreased to 9.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010. More declines of the unemployment rate existed by 2012. Overall, the economy expanded at a rate of 2.9% in 2010. There have been debates on whether the stimulus package has improved the economy. We do know that the economy has grown during the Obama Presidency.  Within a month of the 2010 midterm elections, Obama announced a compromise deal with the Congressional Republican leadership that included a temporary, two-year extension of the 2001 and 2003 income tax rates, a one-year payroll tax reduction, continuation of unemployment benefits, and a new rate and exemption amount for estate taxes.  The compromise overcame opposition from some in both parties, and the resulting $858 billion Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 passed with bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress before Obama signed it on December 17, 2010.

On environmental issues, he agrees with the existence of climate change. He proposed regulations on gas emissions. The April 20, 2010 explosion on the Gulf of Mexico destroyed an offshore drilling rig. The environment was heavily damaged. BP still hasn’t had real accountability. The President visited the Gulf. He promoted a federal investigation. A bipartisan commission existed to recommend new safety standards. He then announced a six-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits and leases, pending regulatory review. Many have criticized BP and Obama for desiring more federal government involvement. One of the biggest accomplishments of the Obama Presidency was the health care reform law. It was one of his big campaign promises. A stronger health care bill which had a public option was passed by the House on November 7, 2009. The Senate passed its bill without a public option on December 24, 2009. On March 21, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed by the Congress. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law by March 23, 2010. It was a historic time. It was a mixture of good and bad parts in it. It had the good parts of protections for those with preexisting conditions, Medicaid expansion, and other parts in it. Yet, it empowered private insurance companies too and it lacked a public option. Obama called the November 2, 2010 election, where the Democratic Party lost 63 seats in, and control of, the House of Representatives, "humbling" and a "shellacking.” He said that the results came because not enough Americans had felt the effects of the economic recovery.

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Foreign Policy Matters in his First Term

President Barack Obama wanted a new era of working together with Russia in 2009. He immediately expressed a speech on March 19 to send outreach to the Muslim World. One of his historic speeches about Muslims was done on June 4, 2009 in Cairo. It was held in the Cairo University in Egypt. The speech was called “A New Beginning” where he wanted peace in the Middle East. He criticized the violence against Iranian protesters in Iran back on June 26, 2009. On September 24, 2009, Barack Obama was the first sitting U.S. President to preside over a meeting of the United Security Council. In March 2010, Obama made it clear that he was against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supporting building Jewish housing projects in predominantly Arabic neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. It is no secret that President Barack Obama didn’t get along with Netanyahu since Netanyahu was so extreme.  During the same month, an agreement was reached with the administration of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with a new pact reducing the number of long-range nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both countries by about one-third. Obama and Medvedev signed the New START treaty in April 2010, and the U.S. Senate ratified it in December 2010. He sent many U.S. troops out of Iraq from 2009 to 2010.

During his second term, he sent some U.S. troops back to Iraq to support the U.S. embassy and help Iraqi forces to fight ISIS. He expanded drone attacks and increased military strength in Afghanistan. In 2011, the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, with the United States being the only nation to do so. Obama supports the two-state solution to the Arab–Israeli conflict based on the 1967 borders with land swaps. Barack Obama on June 2011 said that he supports Israel. One of the biggest foreign policy mistakes of the Obama administration was its support of the NATO attacks in Libya. The Arab Spring existed and it was divided into sincere protesters and agents of the Western intelligence community (filled with NGOs, CIA backing, etc.). These protests in Libya started in February of 2011. By March 2011, rebels were been cashed by Gaddafi forces. U.S. forces were involved in airstrikes in Libya. Libya experienced a massive crisis years later. The Syrian Civil War started in early 2011. Barack Obama wanted President Assad of Syria to go. On 2011, American Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden (in a large compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan). DNA testing was used to confirm the body as Osama bin Laden. Minutes later, the President announced his death on national TV. Celebrations existed in D.C., Ground Zero, and Times Square. By the beginning of 2012, the Barack Obama Presidency experienced multiple foreign policy issues at once. The 2012 Presidential campaign would later exist.

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The 2012 Presidential Election

The 2012 Presidential campaign would be another victory for President Barack Obama. Yet, this campaign would be tougher than his previous Presidential campaign. It would be closer in the election results. This 57th quadrennial American Presidential election was historic. Barack Obama would defeat Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney was involved in the Republican primary where he debated people like John McCain, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Jr., Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and other candidates.  By May of 2012, Mitt Romney won the Republican primary race mostly. He picked Paul Ryan, who is a known reactionary especially on economic issues, as his running mate. Paul Ryan is a member of a new generation of conservatives. The 2012 Presidential campaign centered heavily on the Great Recession and debates on whether the economic recovery and job creation was powerful enough. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had three debates that dealt with budge issues, the Affordable Care Act, foreign policy, taxes, etc. Barack Obama struggled in the first debate and did much better in the last 2 debates. Super PACs were used during this campaign. The 2012 broke previous records in financing, fundraising, and negative campaigning. The Republican nomination convention took place in August 2016 in Tampa, Florida. The Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina during September 2016. The Constitution Party National Convention took place in Nashville, Tennessee. The Libertarian National Convention took place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Green National Convention took place in Baltimore, Maryland. The election took place to end completely on November 6, 2012. There was early voting in September of 2012 too.

This was the time of voter suppression laws being first instituted massively (during the 21st century), which restricted the types of materials that people could use to vote and even the times when people could vote. Civil rights groups denounced such bad laws. Even former  President Bill Clinton denounced them, saying, "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today." These voter suppression laws (which are supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC) are found in Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin, etc. Many third parties existed too. They include Jill Stein of the Green Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, etc.

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President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney involving both the popular vote and the Electoral College. Obama had 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206 votes. Barack Obama carried every state and districts (among states that allocated electoral votes by district) that he had won in the 2008 Presidential election except North Carolina, Indiana, and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district. His margin of victory has declined from 2008. Most liberals and moderates voted for President Barack Obama. More women voted for Obama than Romney. More single men and more single women voted for Obama than married men and married woman. The vast majority of African Americans and people of color voted for President Barack Obama during the 2012 election while the majority of white Americans voted for Romney. Young people younger than 40 mostly voted for Obama while those older than 40 voted mostly for Romney. Urban communities mostly voted for Barack Obama. Suburbs, towns, and rural communities mostly voted for Mitt Romney. Those who made less than $50,000 a year voted in the majority for Obama. Those who made more annual income voted mostly for Romney.  Therefore, we see a pattern here. President Barack Obama became the first incumbent since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 to win reelection with fewer electoral votes and a lower popular vote percentage. Yet, Obama was the first two term President since Ronald Reagan to win both his presidential bids with an absolute majority of the nationwide popular vote. Not since 1820 had three consecutive American presidents succeeded in securing two consecutive terms.

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The Beginning of his Second Term

Barack Obama’s 2nd term started on his 2nd inauguration on January 20, 2013. He was sworn into office again by the Supreme Court Justice Chief Justice John Roberts. During this time, he was promoting gun control, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and other issues. During January 2, 2013, he pushed through a compromise bill that prevented the U.S. from falling off the fiscal cliff. The problem is that the bill has many sharp spending cuts. By the end of January of 2013, he talked across the country to promote reducing gun violence and promote comprehensive immigration reform at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas. During the start of February, President Barack Obama signed the No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013 into law. He continued to promote gun control, but nothing massively changes in Congress legislatively (because of the gun lobby and misunderstandings about what gun control is. To this very day, some believe that gun control means a total gun ban of every citizen, which is a lie).  The President and First Lady attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. on February 7, 2013. During his February 12 State of the Union address, the President announced a drawdown of 34,000 troops from Afghanistan. Afghanistan continues to be a nation at war to this very day.  President Barack Obama did the right thing to sign the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 back in March 7, 2013.  President Obama visited Ramallah in the West Bank. That is the location where he held  a joint news conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and, later in the day, speaks at the Jerusalem International Convention Center. This occurred in March 21, 2013. On March 26, President Barack Obama visited the Stanley Cup winners the LA Kings and the MLS Cup winners the LA Galaxy in the White House. Terrorism continues to be a problem in the world. On March 21, 2013, the President said that Syria’s Assad regime will cross a red line if it uses chemical weapons.

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The Boston bombing of April 15, 2013 changed the nation. It happened during the Boston Marathon (where 2 people used cooker devices to murder and injure innocent people). An authoritarian crackdown in Boston happened and the murderers are caught. One bomber is killed. The other one was cornered by the police, captured, placed on trial, and sentenced to death in 2015. In April, the President visited many world leaders from Jordan’s King Abdullah to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The Guardian published Edward Snowden’s documents about massive NSA monitoring of American citizens (beyond just accused criminals). This causes a renewed debate on civil liberties. To this day, Edward Snowden can’t come into America for fear of arrest. Snowden (and other whistleblowers) made aware about the vast, slick, and in many cases extrajudicial acts of the NSA. Obama talked about climate change too. In 2014, more developments happened. He or Obama accuses Moscow of invading and occupying Crimea in southern Ukraine, which is inaccurate (as Crimea utilized a referendum to decide their own sovereignty). ISIS grows and Obama sent about 275 armed personnel to Iraq to “advise” Iraqi forces fighting ISIS. Later, he authorized airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria. 2014 started the Black Lives Matter movement into the next level. Barack Obama’s response has been a combination of powerful speeches and moderate, middle of the road speeches on police brutality and race. He tries to balance his words in trying to curry favor among both sides (i.e. BLM and the police), but that doesn’t work to convince either side all of the time. Michael Brown was killed by the officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson or a suburb of St. Louis (during 2014). Protesters exist in Ferguson and nationwide. The Black Lives Matter movement and the discussions about police brutality continue to exist to this time in 2017. Obama comes to help with the Ebola crisis. The Republicans take Congress in the 2014 midterm elections. Obama has more difficultly to pass his laws. Obama helps the Dreamers and uses executive orders to deal with immigration (he meet with young immigrants who support DACA, which is a legitimate policy), but he has deported more immigrants than any other President in history (yes, more than Trump).  By the end of December 2014, President Barack Obama said that the end of combat mission in Afghanistan.

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In 2015, another terrorist attack happened in January in Paris. It happened by people who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices (who spewed racist, Islamophobic, sexist, and xenophobic articles and pictures. Yet, the people of that magazine should never have been murdered). One of the most events of 2015 was the June 17, 2015 Charleston shooting where one white racist murdered 9 innocent black human beings. These Brothers and Sisters just wanted to worship God, but their lives were extinguished by one coward. Many people in Charleston, South Carolina came together to oppose racism and get rid of the Confederate flag from the state Capitol grounds (which should happen. This came after the heroic black woman Bree Newsome tried to take the Confederate flag off from public property). In November of 2016, he or President Barack Obama agreed to the Paris climate change agreement in dealing with climate change. 2016 would be the start of the end of the Obama Presidency. President Barack Obama spoke in Hiroshima, Japan in May 27, 2016 to desire a “world without nuclear weapons.” Barack Obama supported the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign for President. Obama criticized Trump on many issues. He called Trump a “home grown demagogue” during the Democratic convention in Philadelphia on July 28, 2016. Obama has his veto overridden. The overridden veto by Congress was about a law that allowed 9/11 families to sue Saudi Arabia for its accused role in the 9/11 attacks. Trump won the election of 2016 which is a very horrific result. Republicans continued to control most of Congress by 2016. Obama called Trump and issue his words of congratulations to him. By the end of 2016, the Obama administration helped Trump and his team to transition into the White House. On December 28, 2016, Obama designated two new national monuments, protecting over 150m acres of land, including sacred Native American sites, in Nevada and Utah. During Obama’s presidency, he has federally protected over 550m acres with his executive powers. Barack Obama placed sanctions on Russia and he expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. The reason is that the administration accused Russia of using a cyber-attack against the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election. Many in the intelligence community believe that these actions contributed to Trump winning the election. To this day, investigations are happening to find the truth.

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Historic Changes

The Presidency of Barack Obama have witness a massive amount of historical changes for America. Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden including Valerie Jarett have promoted the fight against sexual assault against women in college campuses. During this second term, economic inequality still grew. This is represented on how there were nationwide strikes of fast food workers in desiring a higher minimum wage. Barack Obama tried to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact (for 12 nations). People from across the political spectrum opposed the pact because of diversity of reasons. Obama is a believer in climate change. He said that he rejected the Keystone pipeline if it increases carbon pollution. He ended oil exploration in the Arctic in January of 2013. He protected federal lands in conservation. He created 25 new national monuments in his President. He protected a total of 553,000,000 acres (224,000,000 ha) of federal lands and waters, more than any other U.S. president.  In June 2015, the Court ruled 6–3 in King v. Burwell that subsidies to help individuals and families purchase health insurance were authorized for those doing so on both the federal exchange and state exchanges, not only those purchasing plans "established by the State", as the statute reads. The President is the most pro-LGBT President in American history. During his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama was the first President to call for full equality for gay Americans. He supported the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision Obergefell v. Hodges, which ruled that same sex marriage is legal nationwide.

During his 2nd term, he visited Africa with Michelle Obama on July of 2015. He spoke in front of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 29, 2015. He was the first President to do so. He gave his speech to promote infrastructure, economic growth, education, etc. in Africa. He wanted to promote democracy in Africa, but democracy works well when imperialism is gone. He wanted African nations to grow. President Barack Obama in 2015 also spoke in Kenya on a diversity of issues. Also, he wanted to normalize relations with Cuba by December of 2014. Secret meetings between Cuban and American officials started in the spring of 2013. Both sides discussed about a calming down of tensions in Canada and the Vatican. Raul Castro shook hands with Obama during the Nelson Mandela memorial service in Johannesburg in December 10, 2013. So, there was a restorations of relations with Cuba. President Barack Obama announced the formal diplomatic relations among Cuba and America on July 1, 2015. Embassies opened in Washington and Havana. Barack Obama visited Havana, Cuba for two days in March 2016. He was the first sitting President to do so since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. He shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro on April of 2015 in Panama. He signed the Iranian nuclear deal, which is one of his greatest foreign policy decisions. The deal happened in July 14, 2015 and it allowed Iran to not acquire nuclear weapons with investigations and follow through. By 2014, Obama worked with Russia to form a deal where Assad gave up chemical weapons. Chemical attacks in Syria continued still.

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First Lady Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama is a heroic woman who made history as the first black African American First Lady in American history. Her eloquence, her grace, and her compassion are amazing. She is the wife to Barack Obama and she has been his great supporter. To understand the legacy of Barack Obama, you must understand about the life and accomplishments of Michelle Obama. In the beginning, Michelle LaVaughn Obama was born on January 17, 1964 in Chicago.

She was raised in the Southside of Chicago. Her father was Fraser Robinson III. He was a city water plant employee and Democratic precinct captain. Her mother was Marian Shields Robinson. She was a secretary at Spiegel’s catalog store. She is still here today and she is 79 years old. She is the maternal and only living grandparent of Malia and Sasha Obama. She lived in the White House when Barack Obama was President. Michelle Obama’s ancestry comes from the American South. She is descended from the Gullah people of South Carolina’s Low Country region. Her paternal great great grandfather was Jim Robinson (who was a slave on Friendfield Plantation in South Carolina). Some of her relatives live in South Carolina currently. Among her maternal ancestors was her great-great-great-grandmother, Melvinia Shields, a slave on Henry Walls Shields' 200-acre farm in Clayton County, Georgia. Melvinia's first son, Dolphus T. Shields, was biracial and born into slavery about 1860.  In addition, a paternal first cousin once-removed is the African-American Jewish Rabbi Capers Funnye, son of her grandfather's sister. Michelle Obama grew up in a two story bungalow on Euclid Avenue in South side Chicago. Her great aunt lived downstairs from her. In her youth, she employed playing Monopoly and other games. She read and saw family members on both sides of her family. She and her family vacationed at times in White Cloud, Michigan. She and her other brother Craig skipped the second grade.

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Her father and her mother inspired her. Her father suffered from multiple sclerosis and this had a great effect in her life. She made great grades. She was in a gifted class and she attended Whitney Young High School. She was the classmate of Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita. She took three hours to come into the high school since it was located in the Near West Side. She experienced gender discrimination growing up. Michelle Obama was on the honor roll for four years, took advanced placement classes, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She served as student council treasurer. Michelle Obama graduated from high school in 1981 as a salutatorian of her class. She came into Princeton University and graduated in 1983. Her brother coached Oregon State University and Brown University as a basketball coach. Michelle Obama experienced racism and other issues in Princeton. Yet, she never gave up. Many college kids drove BMWs and were extremely wealthy. She was involved in the Third World Center (today’s it is called the Carl A. Fields Center). This is an academic and cultural group that supported minority students. They had their own day care center which was conducted after school tutoring.

As part of her requirements for graduation, she wrote a thesis titled Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community. To research her thesis, she sent a questionnaire to African American graduates. It wanted to specify when and how comfortable they were with their race before enrollment at Princeton and how they felt about it when they were a student and since then. Of the 400 alumni to whom she sent the survey, fewer than 90 responded, and her findings did not support her hope that the black alumni would still identify with the African American community, even though they had attended an elite university with all of the advantages that accrues to its graduates. She majored in sociology and minored in African American studies, graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in 1985. In 1988, Michelle Obama earned her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School. Her confidence has grown. Her faulty mentor at Harvard Law was the famous progressive teacher Charles Ogletree.

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Ogletree inspired her. She called herself both brilliant and black. Michelle Obama demonstrated and fought for more minority representation as professors in Harvard. She worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. In that organization, he helped low income tenants with housing cases. She is the third First Lady with a postgraduate degree. The other first Ladies with the postgraduate degree are Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. Michelle Obama loved the opportunities that education gave her. Michelle Obama’s father, Fraser C. Robinson III, passed away from complications from his illness in March 1991.  She would later say that although he was the "hole in my heart" and "loss in my scar", the memory of her father has motivated her each day since. Around this time, her friend Suzanne Alele passed away from cancer. This was a turning point in her life as she continued to help society and influence the world. Michelle Obama first met Barack Obama when they were among the few African Americans at their law firm Sidley Austin LLP. She mentored him while he was a summer associate. They started to have a relationship with a business lunch and then a community organization meeting where he first impressed her. Before meeting Obama, Michelle had previously told her mother that she would focus solely on her career.

The couple's first date was to the Spike Lee movie Do the Right Thing. Barack Obama opined that he and Michelle had an "opposites attract" scenario in their interest for each other initially since Michelle had stability through her two-parent home while he was "adventurous." They married in October 1992. Their 2 daughters are Malia Ann (born in 1998) and Natasha (also known as Sasha who was born in 2001). The Obama family continued to live in the Chicago’s South Side until moving to Washington, D.C. Valerie Jarrett is one of the couple’s closest friends and advisors. In their marriage early on, they scheduled date nights despite their busy work lives. Michelle Obama is a Protestant Christian and has attended many churches from Shiloh Baptist Church, St. John’ Episcopal Church (both of which are found in Washington, D.C.) and African Methodist Episcopal Church. She worked as Assistant to the mayor in 1991. In 1993, she became Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies, a non-profit organization encouraging young people to work on social issues in nonprofit groups and government agencies. She worked there nearly four years and set fundraising records for the organization that still stood 12 years after she left. In 1996, Michelle Obama was the Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago. She developed the University’s Community Service Center. In 2002, she began working for the University of Chicago Hospitals, first as executive director for community affairs and, beginning May 2005, as Vice President for Community and External Affairs.

As early as 1996, Michelle Obama knew that Barack Obama would go into a political career, but she was wary about the process. She campaigned for him during Barack Obama’s 2000 run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Barack Obama would lose that election and win the Senate race later on. Barack Obama decided to run for the Presidency in 2007. Michelle Obama wanted him to quit smoking as a condition to support his run. During the historic campaign, she talked about race and education including motherhood. Michelle Obama wrote her own speeches, made appearances with Oprah Winfrey, and increased campaign participation greatly by February 2008. In the campaign, Michelle Obama was disrespected by racists and her critics. She was falsely stereotyped as an “angry black woman” which is an evil misogynoir slur. Michelle Obama responded by saying that she will continue to stand up and speak up.

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Michelle Obama is known for her eloquent speeches and she is known for a great fashion style. Her historic 2008 Democratic National Convention speech in August of 2008 showed that she is her own woman. In the speech, Michelle Obama said both she and her husband believed "that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them.” Michelle Obama continued to campaign and gave interviews in October. By November 2008, Barack Obama has won the election as the first black man to be elected President of the United States of America. During the early months as First Lady in early 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama visited homeless shelters and coup kitchens. She sent representatives to schools and advocated public service. She endorsed President Barack Obama’s bills. She hosted a White House reception for women’s rights advocates in celebration of the enactment of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Pay equity law. She supported the economic stimulus bill in visits to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development and United States Department of Education. She was involved in politics. She worked to promote the interests of military families, working women, mothers, etc. She promoted education and the arts.  First Michelle Obama appeared on the cover and in a photo spread in the March 2009 issue of Vogue. She loves fashion a great deal.

She has traveled around the world. In April 1, 2009, she came into Buckingham Palace to met with Queen Elizabeth II. She spoke to students in Mexico in April of 2010. Michelle Obama traveled to Africa for the second official trip in June 2011, touring Johannesburg, Cape Town and Botswana and meeting with Graca Machel. Michelle Obama was also involved with community events in the foreign countries. She had a more active involvement in the 2012 Presidential campaign than the 2008 election. Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 election too.

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Throughout the 2 terms of President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama has received great popularity among the American people. She came into Washington, D.C. in 2013 to celebrate the 50th year anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. She came into Selma with her husband to remember the 50 year anniversary of the March from Selma to Montgomery event (in March of 2015). In July 2015, Obama journeyed to Coachella Valley while coming to Los Angeles for that year's Special Olympics World Games. In October 2015, Obama was joined by Jill Biden and Prince Harry in visiting a military base in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, an attempt on the prince's part to raise awareness to programs supporting harmed service members. In December 2015, Obama traveled with her husband to San Bernardino, California, to meet with families of the victims of a terrorist attack that occurred two weeks earlier.

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A large part of her legacy is her Let’s Move! campaign. This campaign was about promoting healthy eating and exercise for children and adults. She planted a White House organic garden. Let’s Move! started in January of 2010. On February 9, 2010, the First Lady announced Let's Move! and President Barack Obama created the Task Force on Childhood Obesity to review all current programs and create a national plan towards change. She wanted to fight childhood obesity. Michelle Obama stated that her goal was to make this effort her legacy: "I want to leave something behind that we can say, 'Because of this time that this person spent here, this thing has changed.' And my hope is that that's going to be in the area of childhood obesity." Her 2012 book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America is based on her experiences with the garden and promotes healthy eating. Many Republicans criticized her, but Her Let’s Move! Campaign was highly successful in gaining awareness and improving lives. Michelle Obama toured America in supporting Democratic candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. In March 2014, Michelle Obama visited China along with her two daughters Malia and Sasha, and her mother Marian Robinson. She met with Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, visited historic and cultural sites, as well as a university and two high schools. Michelle Obama continue to support her husband and she supported Hillary Clinton's 2016 Presidential campaign. Today, she is living her life and she has made history as a great black woman.

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Cultural Impact

The Presidency of Barack Obama has had a huge cultural impact nationally and internationally. Many celebrities praise him. They are extremely numerous. They include people like Anthony Bourdain, Tina Knowles, Jason Wu, Jessica Alba, Nia Long, Jim Belushi, Jack Black, Ashton Kutcher, Rashida Jones, James Earl Jones, Ashley Judd, Common, Jamie Foxx, Jay Z, Beyoncé, Drew Barrymore, Alec Baldwin, Angela Lansbury, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Rosario Dawson, Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Fran Drescher, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert Redford, etc. Many international leaders welcome him to speak in their nations. He is an African American who traveled internationally since his youth. He has a gift to communicate eloquently and appeal to people from across nationalities and races. He has been influenced by many social movements. He can play basketball and he can sing. He has won numerous awards and acknowledgements for his literature and other actions. President Barack Obama is part of the Internet age and more and more young people have been engaged in political issues during the Age of Obama. He has been called a hip hop President too, because of many reasons. One is that President Barack Obama is the first President who has a strong affinity to love hip hop music as he is a fan of hip hop. He admits that he loves to listen to a diversity of music including music from Jay Z to other artists. On April 17, 2009, then candidate President brushed his shoulder off when he campaigned against Hillary Clinton. He has allowed rappers to perform in the White House. The President worked with Kendrick Lamar to promote his My Brother’s Keeper program. Many young people respect the President Barack Obama. Obama has inspired the youth in many endeavors.

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The End of an Era

At the month of December during 2016, the beginning of the end of the Presidency of Barack Obama commenced. It was a time of an end of an era. On December 2, he held a bilateral meeting with Secretary General designate Antonio Guterres of the United Nations. He spoke in MacDill Air Force Base in Florida in December 6 to talk about how terrorism is a dangerous threat in the world. He noted the 75th anniversary of the World War II Pearl Harbor Attack on December 7, 2016. He signed the 21st Century Cures Act on December 14. This law was a bipartisan effort to expand funding for medical research. President Obama signs the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, which makes it illegal to use a bot to purchase tickets online. This was done in December 15. He held his last press conference of 2016 on December 16. Later, he and his family take a vacation on Air Force One to Hawaii. This was part of their annual holiday vacation. The end of 2016 was a time for relaxation for President Barack Obama and his family. On December 23, 2017, he signed into law the annual defense spending bill which would increase military pay and require all new recruits to be issued athletic shoes made in the United States. By the date of President Obama visits the USS Arizona Memorial with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to honor the 2,300 Americans who died on December 7, 1941. January 2017 would be the final time of his time as President. He came back to the White House after his annual Hawaiian vacation on January 2, 2017. One the next day, the 115th United States Congress started. He comes to visit Democratic lawmakers to try to send a message of trying to save the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, because many Republicans wanted to repeal and replace the law. On January 6, 2017, he hosted a farewell party at the White House with many celebrities like Kelly Rowland, Jordin Sparks, Al Sharpton, Beyoncé and Jay Z, etc. On January 10, President Barack Obama delivered his farewell speech at McCornick Place in his hometown of Chicago. He welcomed the 2016 World Series champion Chicago Cubs to the White House. He later commuted the sentences of General James Cartwright and Chelsea Manning. On January 19, 2017, President Obama grants 330 commutations to nonviolent drug offenders. That was the most acts of clemency that Obama granted in a single day and the most granted on one day in U.S. history by any president.

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Goodbyes and Legacy

January 20, 2017 was the final day of President Barack Obama’s Presidency. He leaves the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama. His successor is the xenophobic right wing demagogue Donald Trump. Trump is the 45th President of America. Now, it is important to evaluate his legacy as a President. I lived throughout President Barack Obama’s tenure. So, his legacy is always a mixture of the legitimately great policies that he made along with his mistakes. Form the start of his Presidency, he wanted to promote a new society where people can come together to formulate solutions. He wanted a transformation generationally of society. Yet, he found out that the same bigotries and injustices continued to exist. He saw Democratic majorities in the Congress and Republican majorities in the Senate. He experienced slander by his critics and hagiography by his supporters. The truth is that President Barack Obama has advanced capitalism and neoliberalism. On some social issues, he is the most progressive President in history without question. On foreign policy issues, he has expressed many of the similar polices from the Bush and Clinton administrations. President Barack Obama has realized that many Republicans care more about party than truth or logic. The Great Recession (which was created by a Wall Street credit bubble that exploded) harmed millions of America. Obama’s policies did create millions of jobs (about 11.3 million jobs, which is great news), but many of these jobs were low wage. His policies prevented a permanent depression in America as the unemployment rate in 2016 is much lower than in 2009.

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Likewise, economic inequality has increased during his term. One part of his legacy is the passage of the Affordable care Act, the Iranian nuclear deal (which is one of his greatest accomplishments), the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (which had legitimate parts in it), and other policies. He repealed don’t ask don’t tell. He continued drone strikes in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen. He expanded troop deployments in Afghanistan. I don’t agree with that. President Obama’s foreign policy is blatantly non-progressive by supporting the coup in Honduras, supporting aggressive acts against whistleblowers, he blocked habeas corpus rights for enemy combatants, sending arms to Saudi Arabia plus Israel, etc. This policies grew the military industrial complex and the national security state in an antithesis to human civil liberties. On issues of race, he talks about “personal responsibility” and moderate views. The ACA lacks a public option and many parts of it have been crafted by the insurance industry. The law was a compromise with good and bad parts in it. He talked about criminal justice issues too. According to Pew Research Center and United States Bureau of Justice Statistics, from December 31, 2009 to December 31, 2015, that inmates sentenced in US federal custody declined by 5% under US President Obama. This is the largest decline in sentenced inmates in US federal custody since Democrat US President Jimmy Carter. By contrast, the federal prison population increased significantly under US president Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. On immigration, he has deported more immigrants than any President in American history. Therefore, the Presidency of Barack Obama has been a combination of successes and challenges. It has been both examples of great policies and great mistakes. The Presidency of Barack Obama represented a new era of American society indeed.

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Post Presidency

One important point of his Post-Presidency is the creation of the Barack Obama Presidential Library, which will be held in Chicago, Illinois. It will be hosted by the University of Chicago. It will be located in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago too. It will become the 14th site in the National Archives and Records Administration’s Presidential library system.  I do agree with the Obama family in giving $2 million to help fund Chicago summer job programs. During the summer, many people are out of work and it is important to give the poor and others economic and job opportunities. I have no problem with that. We can't be naive either. Chicago is a beautiful city with great culture. Likewise, we know problems exist in Chicago too. The solutions to those issues require a comprehensive diverse approach from economic programs, mentorships, job creation actions, neighborhood revitalization efforts (excluding excessive gentrification), infrastructure development, and other actions to combat poverty & economic inequality. Public services must be strengthened and families deserve the necessary love and resources to be strengthened. We have a long way to go. We may never see the Promised Land in our lifetimes. Yet, we start now, so the Promised Land can hopefully come in less than 100 years from now. We won't quit and we are victors. We may may even see the beginning of the end of oppression in our lifetimes.

The Extended Obama Family Inauguration Portrait | Michelle Obama Pictures - Photos of the First Lady

This is the portrait of many members of the Obama family.

After January 20, 2017, Barack Obama was lifted off on Executive One. He rented a house in Kalorama, Washington, D.C. During the Democratic National Committee chairmanship election, Obama wanted Tom Perez to run against Keith Ellison. Perez won. On March 2, 2017, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum awarded the annual Profile in Courage Award to Obama "for his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage.” Barack Obama wanted to promote participation in politics in his seminar at the University of Chicago on April 24, 2017. He supported Emmanuel Macron during the French Presidential election on May 4, 2017. In his May 25, speech in Berlin, Barack Obama wanted election participation and he rejected xenophobia (which is a criticism of the Trump regime). Obama traveled to Kensington Palace in England and met with Prince Harry on May 27, 2017; Obama tweeted afterward that the two discussed their foundations and offering condolences in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing that occurred five days prior. He continues to speak. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have stood side by side in their journeys as well.

Therefore, it is always important to stand up for democratic rights, to fight imperialism, to believe in hope, to believe in racial justice, to love altruism, to care for the environment, to protect our civil liberties, to reject bigotry, to honor our families plus our neighbors, and to embrace politically independent, progressive thinking.

By Timothy

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