How much has the extraordinary wave of hope that swept the world four years ago, when US President Barack Obama was inaugurated, been borne out by his first term in office?
Why do I think it is so vital that he wins again this week, for the US and for the world?
Let’s remember that Obama inherited a very deep hole, a hole most Americans did not imagine existed. When he came in, we had lost 4 million jobs in four years — 800,000 jobs evaporated in January 2009 alone. Since that time, we have created 5.5 million new jobs. That is more than 30 straight months of job growth in tough economic times. In addition, Obama had to confront banks that, through their greed, had forced record-breaking home foreclosures. The global economy — from the US to Europe and around the world — was at the point of total collapse. The banks were bailed out.
The automotive industry had collapsed. Now, because of the Obama administration’s policies to rescue the auto industry, we are the No. 1 auto-producing nation again. Autoworkers are once more working three shifts and producing high yields. The auto industry is back, though Republican rival Mitt Romney said: “Let them go bankrupt.”
Furthermore, when Obama came into office, we were caught in a war of choice — an immoral, bad choice — in Iraq. Former US president George W. Bush and former British prime minister Tony Blair dealt us a severe blow. The whole world was telling them not to wage war — I was speaking in London at Hyde Park on the day of the big protest. We told them there was no basis for going into Iraq. Since then, we have lost British and US lives, resources and honor, and they have not been humble enough to apologize. That war cost us trillions of dollars, which took us from a budget surplus to a budget deficit.
Now we have left Iraq and the administration has implemented a plan to wind down the war in Afghanistan, which is coming to a close in terms of US involvement. Billions of dollars spent on war can now be redirected to jobs, investment and economic development at home.
There is a lot more we must do to be seen as leading the world by right. We have become addicted to leading by might and it takes some time to restore confidence and credibility. We are not there yet, but we are moving in the right direction.
So yes, when Obama took office, the US and the world were in a deep, dark economic (and political) hole. However, now we are moving through fields toward the mountaintop. Though we have yet to reach that point, the arrows are pointing in the right direction — jobs, industry, healthcare cover all on the rise, wars on the decline.
Romney and the conservatives have derided the comprehensive healthcare plan as “Obamacare,” but the truth is that Obama does care. People would be dead without health insurance and young people benefit as they can stay on their parents’ health plans into their 20s. The insurance companies were charging higher and higher fees for ever lower cover and they claimed the right not to insure people. Obama broke up that kind of exploitative behaviour and today 30 million more Americans are covered. Obama’s historic healthcare legislation will stand the test of time.
All of this was achieved despite the attempt by the Republicans to demean the president. They called him a liar. They said that he is not an American, he is not a Christian, he is illegitimate.