Obama: The Best Person for the Job?

President Obama is not a superhero, a savior, the devil, or the antichrist: he is a politician. His transition from the campaign trail to governance came with an economic meltdown, an oil spill off the gulf coast, two wars, and massive unemployment. As with all politicians who manage to get elected, President Obama did not deliver all the promises he made during the election.  This is most likely due to the limitations of the job. He appeared at a time of desperation, and managed to swell the country with hope. But like most bubbles, it eventually popped, partially because of his actions, but mostly as a result of unrealistic expectations and a tense atmosphere in Washington.

The President may be the commander and chief, but he is not almighty. He has to make policies that are functional, appease the right and left, and swiftly deal with the most pressing issues at hand. The country needs strong leadership, a president willing to take on Republicans and fight for policies that create tangible change. His policy has not been as progressive, effective, or radical as some of us would have liked. He has given Republicans certain concessions in legislation on policies such as the debt ceiling and healthcare, as to avoid government gridlock and to get conservatives to like him. These concessions contribute to the government stagnation and ineffectiveness that the American public has long complained about.

The president’s commitment to compromise is admirable, but his attempt at mediating between democrats and republicans is failing. If anything, these attempts have heated the debate more than ever, as each side gets more defensive and policy becomes less effective.  Yet Obama knows that it’s nearly impossible to get unanimous or majority support on anything. By making middle-of-the-road policies he can avert the limbo that radical, yet arguably better, legislation often ends up. With the amount of resistance President Obama faces on moderate policies it is no surprise that his policies have not been more progressive. Perhaps he is not the strong, courageous and confident leader we would all like to have, but he is the one we voted for and he should not be forsaken.  Support is the key to increasing his confidence and helping him be a stronger president.

It’s easy to criticize the President and even easier to blame all of the country’s problems on his leadership, as we did to Bush, as justifiable as we might have been. Obama is the democratic donkey that we all seem to be pinning the tail on. But it is not his job to make everyone happy, it’s his job to make this republic more democratic. Criticism is a vital part of the democratic process, but if liberals do not support him, the country’s disposition may become so discouraging that the 2012 election sways in favor of Republicans, a chance our country cannot afford to take. Right now, the Republican Party is showing their true colors, which is for the most part pro-big business, anti-welfare, and rather self-serving. Though democratic strategy may be lack luster, their principles are still the same as the day we voted for Obama. Dissatisfaction with his performance should not propel us into voting for a party we disagree with.  Obama may not practice what he preaches, but at least he’s not preaching from the pulpit of nonsensical elitism, fanatical idealism, and spiteful heterosexism.

Disappointment in President Obama’s performance is natural when the expectation is that he would completely turn the country around in four years. President Obama’s election was simply a step in the right direction, not the answer to our problems or the cause of them. All things considered, President Obama has done his job well; he is a sensible and qualified man. He speaks to the country in a genuine way, has improved our reputation in the world, and has passed some of the most progressive legislation this country has seen since Lyndon Johnson, such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” health reform, wall street financial reform, nuclear arms reduction, tobacco regulation, and reformed student loan programs.  If he had it his way the United States would be well on its way towards energy independence, military neutrality, social reform, infrastructure improvement, and tax reform. It is not his country to do with what he wishes, but to do with what he can, within the limits of the law, the political climate, and his own ethics. The change we voted for may not be visible yet, but it is there and if given four more years he would hopefully implement even more reform.

If we are to compare him to the Republican contenders that have so far declared themselves, he is without a doubt the best candidate for the presidency. He could learn a thing or two from his Republican counterparts in that they do not waver on their stance, but in terms of intelligence, diplomacy, temperament, and overall competence Republican candidates pale in comparison. For all of Obama’s faults and inadequacies, he is still the best person for the job at our disposal.

Most of us do not know the first thing about the economy or politics, and so we are easily manipulated into voting for candidates that look good or simply make the other candidate look bad.   Politics is a precariously placed game in which officials must both win the support of the country and pass legislation that many people hate or don’t understand. The only way to reduce corruption, pass meaningful legislation, and come up with creative ideas for propelling this country into a future of prosperity is having educated citizens, who do not have to worry about reelection, engaging in the political debate.

To completely change the course of the country requires unnerving resolve and sacrifice from its entire people, not just the one leading it.  If the American public is not willing to educate themselves and demand for the specific kind of change they want, then politics will remain a game of tug of war between Republicans and Democrats with society as the rope. No real effective change can come if we leave it all up to the President because he will inevitably fail.

We may not be ready for the change we voted for, because if we were the tea party’s redirect would not be given legitimacy instead of directing the Republican party and in turn the dynamics in Washington. If we abdicate our right to participate in our democracy, the country will continue to deteriorate. If we allow the media and politicians to manipulate us instead of using our inherit ability of rational thought to chose the best person for the job and what policy and direction is right for the country, government will always be a corrupt system.  Next year is election year and the questions on everyone’s mind seem to be “will Obama receive the support he did in 2008 and be able to use his second term to take the country in the direction it needs to go regardless of the resistance he faces?”  For me, the question that is more pressing is will we, the people, start taking a more active role in democracy, demand our politicians to work for our interests, and be willing to sacrifice for the sake of progress?  At the end of the day the country is not a reflection of its government, but its people and we only have ourselves to blame for the condition we are in.

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