Eight years ago, I distinctly remember sitting on an uncomfortable plastic seat, planted in my Extended Learning math class during lunch, watching a man by the name of Barack Obama accept the role of President of the United States of America. I was captivated by the massive decision the American people made, and although I was only in fifth grade, I had an inclining that Barack Obama would a President that I would be proud of-and more importantly, a President this country would be proud of. And in that time, there has not been one instance where I thought any differently. For me, Obama has been my President for just under half my life and I cannot think of an America without him as my leader.
But seeing as today is his last full day in Office, I must accept that fact. Today is the last full day President Obama will be Leader of the Free World, the last full day he will be Commander-in-Chief, the last full day I will ever be able to call him President Obama without adding a Former before everything. He is a man who hasn’t let adversity stop him. He has saved countless lives, pushed for equality, and listened when America spoke. He has been accepting, passionate, and above all has loved every single American citizen.
And I find it necessary for me to reflect and contemplate what President Obama did for America. While it is possible for me to write about his policies and accomplishments, there are already articles that explain all of them in great detail. I will add a few of these articles below. But I find that I have to comment on his effect on me and my generation and what that meant rather than a simple list.
In addition to being a charismatic and loving individual, he has been a personable and approachable human being. While I have never seen him in person, I know of multiple people who have met him, and they speak highly to how compassionate and nice he is. We tend to think of leaders on another level as their followers, but President Obama regards everyone as his equal. And this allows for a conversation about critical issues to be brought up without fear of disapproval.
Even watching him on television or his social media correspondence reflect these qualities. He was President when the Internet found its way into almost every American home, and I think this an important and crucial fact for being one of the highest rated Presidents leaving Office. The Internet has allowed for actions only happening in Washington D.C. to be accessible to everyone. President Obama has his own Twitter account, his own Facebook, and countless cameos in videos, gifs, and Internet media. His personable qualities have allowed for Internet inside jokes and memes to flourish and in essence made him pleasing to the younger generations.
The American population generally views President Obama as cool, and I believe that’s what makes a President successful. That is why he has approval ratings floating around 60%, not only because he has made influential decisions, but because President Obama could be friends with anyone. And it seems like he is my friend, someone who I can trust. And this trust-this honesty he shows the American people that even a President has emotions. This distinctly reminds me of Sandy Hook, where as a nation, as a President, as a people, we mourned. We were exposed to a President that truly cared for his people. He would cry with us and take a moment of silence with us in the wake of devastating events. But as any friend would, he also laughed with us, conversed with us, fought for us, and compromised with us. And knowing there will be a transition of leadership soon has forced us to contemplate the stark reality of what is to come. It’s as if we are leaving our friend for the last time, as if we are coming to our last “Goodbye”. And in some way, I try to deny this fact. And yet, President Obama will still have made an effect on our lives even when he leaves Office. His passion for the people will not go away. I know for a fact, that even out of Office, he will fight for us as if he were our President.
I am still trying to process that this is the ending to an eight year era of progressive actions toward a more equal society. And if our mission is to give equal opportunity and to give everyone basic human rights, then we are about to lose the answer to our problem. And so, for me it’s an event so bittersweet that I am scared for the future. He moved a whole society, and something gives me the feeling that we may never have another President that great.
However, I do acknowledge that with any person comes flaws, and so I am not denying this fact. But I do know that his flaws have been overstated and shouldn’t be his defining factor.
Today, is an emotional day for the United States. But we shouldn’t be sad that President Obama is leaving, we should be thankful he was there to take Office in the first place. We found a man perfect for the job, and now it is time to move on. And if I were to ever meet him in person, I would thank him for being a great friend to the American population.