Obama's Legacy on the Eve of his Second Term

Obama's Legacy on the Eve of his Second Term

President Barack Obama and his family at 2009 inaugeration. Photo by: EPA
President Barack Obama and his family at 2009 inaugeration. Photo by: EPA

Today, January 21, 2013, President Barack Obama will be publicly sworn in for his second term as the 44th President of the United States. For many, the election of President Obama signified a break with the past, a new era of "Hope" and "Change". Although Obama promised us a lot in the lead-up to his election, his appeal to liberals and progressives came from much more than his policies and campaign promises. Disillusionment with the American political establishment seemed to reach its highest levels since the Reagan administration, with many on the Left lifting up Obama as a symbol of our collective disgust with the Junior Bush's legacy. But did his first term pan out to be all the progressive awesomesauce we thought it would be?

On the eve of President Obama's second term, let's look at some highlights of his first term:

  • Oversaw the largest single upward transfer of monetary wealth in history (an over $1 trillion "bailout") from the general public to the capitalist class. Corporate profits under his administration have grown at the highest rate since 1900. [1]
  • Escalated the Afghanistan war (remember "the Surge"?), the second longest running war in US history. [2][3]
  • Signed off on the assassination of a US citizen, and then tried to legally justify it. Likely the only Nobel Peace Prize winner who has a "Kill List". [4][5]
  • Signed off on a bill authorizing the indefinite detention of US citizens. [6]
  • Deported more immigrants than any other US President (including in George W. Bush's two terms). [7]
  • Hasn't done anything substantial to halt Israel's expanding settlements and illegal occupation of Palestinian territories, but continues to give them $3 billion per year in military aid, plus a recent $70 million increase. [8][9]
  • Recently re-authorized funding for the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, a facility he campaigned on promising to close.
  • Signed off on the renewed PATRIOT ACT, which included several new attacks on civil liberties suggested by the Obama administration. [10]
  • Authorized the warrantless wiretapping of phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens. [11]
  • Enormously expanded unpersonned drone strike program in Pakistan and other nations where we are not at war. [12]
  • Initiated an aggressive campaign to prosecute and silence whistleblowers at all levels of government and military, far more than any of his predecessors. [13]
  • Ramped up a Bush-era cyberwarfare program (Stuxnet and its variants) against Iran, another nation with which we are not at war. [14]
  • Continued the 50-year embargo on Cuba.
  • Reneged on campaign promise to lift ban on federal funding on needle exchange programs. [15]
  • Sold millions of dollars of arms to notorious human rights abusers such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. [16]

Ready for a second term? I think that if we're going to be subjected to any more of this type of "Hope" and "Change", the next four years will be dreary indeed. It's time to step up our game and create the kind of change we want to see, instead of pinning our hopes on the President to do it for us.


1 http://itsoureconomy.us/2013/01/corporate-profits-have-grown-by-171-perc...
2 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/09/chart-day-afghanistan-surg...
3 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Length_of_U.S._participation_in_major_wars
4 http://www.salon.com/2010/04/07/assassinations_2/
5 http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/how-team-obama-justi...
6 https://rt.com/usa/news/obama-lohier-ndaa-stay-414/
7 http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/10/american-...
8 https://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/opinion/the-truth-about-obama-and-isr...
9 http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/obama-announces-70-million-...
10 https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/10/obama-sides-republicans-patriot-ac...
11 https://rt.com/usa/news/obama-fisa-faa-signed-143/
12 http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/Blotter/obama-drone-warrior-chief/story?i...
13 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/05/obama-campaign-brags...
14 https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/01/world/middleeast/obama-ordered-wave-o...
15 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/endgame-aids-in-bl...
16 http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/01/27

Daniel Staples

Daniel is a collective member of the Indypendent Reader.  His interests include technology, feminism, sexuality, economics, and music.  Daniel has a Master's degree in Women's and Gender Studies from Towson University, and develops mesh network technology at the Open Technology Institute.  He maintains the Indyreader website.

Reach him by e-mail at dan.indyreader[at]riseup.net, or follow him on twitter @0xDanarky.