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Evaluating the presidency of barack obama in the united states

Are Trump's rollbacks personal?

Obama's legacy: He sparked hope -- and got blindsided

That was what made him so endearing to millions of Americans and shaped much of what he did in the Oval Office. Obama had clearly articulated his understanding of the nation when he came into the spotlight during the Democratic National Convention in 2004. In the middle of one of the most contentious moments of the era, when Americans were deeply divided over a President who had taken the nation into a costly war in Iraq based on false claims of Weapons of Mass Destruction, then-Illinois Sen.

Obama refused to give in to anger and disillusionment. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States.

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

  1. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. They were extraordinarily hardline in their stance against immigration.
  2. They believed in a kind of ruthless form of political combat, where they went so far as threatening to send the nation into financial default over spending disputes, shocking some senior members of their own party.
  3. US democracy is fragile Whereas this kind of fractious media conversation had always existed on the margins, now these kinds of stories could be seen, heard and read on powerful networks and websites.
  4. But historians eventually will also calculate the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, look back on the results of the opening to Cuba, appreciate his admittedly belated environmental activism, and notice that his Administration was virtually scandal free.

Every time that they bit him rather than agreeing to compromise, Obama gave bipartisan civility another shot. Many members of his party pleaded with him to stop watering down his proposals, including lowering the amount of his stimulus request, based on the false hope he would be able to persuade his opponents -- but Obama insisted.

As the political ecosystem started to drown in partisan spin and vitriolic slander, he attempted to be reasonable, appealing to the evidence-based angels in our electorate, desperately trying to ignore all the noise. Obama's final report card: Did he live up to his promise?

But the partisan noise was what our politics was now about.

And this influenced much of his term in office. Starting with the 2010 midterm elections, Obama was Tea-Partied.

  • But, with respect to other pressing issues—reducing widening economic inequality, moving beyond overly militarized approaches to foreign policy and confronting the ecological damage of climate change—Obama made only marginal, even negligible gains, and did not achieve the progressive, political breakthrough he promised;
  • Did he live up to his promise?
  • Julian Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University:

He watched as the Republican Party veered far to the right. A new generation of politicians came into power whose core policy beliefs were well outside the mainstream. They were extraordinarily hardline in their stance against immigration. They had little tolerance for criminal justice reform to achieve racial justice. They hated the Affordable Care Act and financial regulations. And they were determined to cut federal spending as much as they could.

  • They had little tolerance for criminal justice reform to achieve racial justice;
  • The campaign finance system completely broke down;
  • As the political ecosystem started to drown in partisan spin and vitriolic slander, he attempted to be reasonable, appealing to the evidence-based angels in our electorate, desperately trying to ignore all the noise;
  • Tea Party Republicans were also incredibly sophisticated at using political institutions to their advantage;
  • And they were determined to cut federal spending as much as they could.

The style of the Tea Party Republicans was as notable as their agenda. They believed in a kind of ruthless form of political combat, where they went so far as threatening to send the nation into financial default over spending disputes, shocking some senior members of their own party. They refused to listen to anyone other than themselves.

When they no longer needed a specific person as leader, like Speaker John Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor, they were prepared to pressure him out of power. The Tea Party also built a strong grassroots political operation and amassed substantial financial support, so they were a force to be reckoned with. Far-right extremist groups, who Obama's election was supposed to have been a repudiation of, continued to circulate in these conservative circles.

While Obama spoke calmly about facts and data, Tea Party Republicans operated in a conservative media universe that privileged screaming, yelling, attacking and just making things up if they fit into a specific world view. In the political media world where the Tea Party thrived, it was possible to say that the first African-American President might be illegitimate based on false accusations that he was not born in the United States.

What marks does Obama's presidency deserve?

US democracy is fragile Whereas this kind of fractious media conversation had always existed on the margins, now these kinds of stories could be seen, heard and read on powerful networks and websites. This wasn't the Yellow Press -- it was the mainstream press.

The "birther" controversy, for instance, actually received coverage on mainstream networks. A politician like Obama could be civil as much as he wanted, but nobody on these airwaves would be listening.

10 Historians on What Will Be Said About President Obama's Legacy

The point was to preach to the converted, to strengthen their view of the world rather than trying to challenge or to inform. Obama understood that the worlds of reality television and national politics were becoming dangerously intertwined, but he had faith that the more serious voices among us would ultimately prevail.

Tea Party Republicans were also incredibly sophisticated at using political institutions to their advantage. They mastered the art of gerrymandering by relying on sophisticated computer technology to build solidly red districts after having scored huge gains in state and local elections in 2010. Republicans pushed draconian voting "fraud" laws in states such as Arkansas, Georgia and Wisconsin that disenfranchised Americans who tended to vote for the Democrats -- and this despite there being no evidence of any real problem in elections.

More was going wrong between 2009 and 2017 than the dangerous drift of the GOP. The campaign finance system completely broke down. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision 2010 essentially legitimized a system in which private money dominated elections. The Koch Brothers became the most visible manifestation of this problem.

Obama understood that this was a serious problem, but he didn't do much to really solve it. Government reform was never a top priority.

  • The irony is that Obama leaves office with a solid approval rating and more popular than President-elect Donald Trump;
  • People will see enormous progress in the lives of gay people, and a president helps sometimes those cultural changes take place or at least he gets credit when it happens;
  • Some of that will depend on what happens to health care;
  • They mastered the art of gerrymandering by relying on sophisticated computer technology to build solidly red districts after having scored huge gains in state and local elections in 2010.