For most of my adult life, Barack Obama has been president of the United States.
In 2008, I voted for Obama despite being a registered Republican. I was in my Senior year of college at the time, and everyday it seemed the future was growing increasingly dim. The housing market had begun collapsing the year before, and was in total free-fall (bringing much of the economy with it) by the time the election arrived. My job as a student assistant seemed constantly in jeopardy, with the California governor imposing furloughs and other cost-cutting measures on state agencies. I wasn’t sure what – if any jobs – would be available once I graduated (and as it turned out, I spent most of that first year living the slacker’s life). As a budding twenty-something, this was a scary time to be coming of age.
As I entered the voting booth on that Tuesday morning, I wasn’t sure that I was making the right decision by voting for a Democrat in my first presidential election. If I’m being honest, I was skeptical that he could actually deliver on promises of “change”. But I also figured that maybe – just maybe – Obama was the outsider this country needed.
I can’t say that I really paid attention to what President Obama did over the next seven years. I spent much of that time as a political agnostic, more concerned with making ends meet than whatever was going on in Washington DC. I didn’t even bother voting in the 2012 election. It wasn’t until the 2016 election cycle approached that I really started to reflect upon those intervening years. Separated from the deluge of negativity from AM Talk Radio and Fox News, I ultimately came to appreciate just how much better life – as I saw it – was compared to those final years of Bush 43.
We have many challenges still ahead of us as a nation: growing racial tensions, economic inequality, and an ever-warming planet, to name a few. However, I have faith in this nation and the people in it, and we shall overcome these challenges (and many more) in the next four years and beyond. The sky is never the limit.
Barack Obama was the first black President of the United States, but he is many other things as well. He is clearly a loving husband to Michelle and father to Sasha and Malia. He is a loyal and caring friend to Joe Biden and his family. He is an American citizen who obviously loves this country and wants us all to succeed. And he’s what I like to call “aggressively likable”: even if you vehemently disagree with his politics, it’s honestly hard to hate the man.
So on the eve of President Obama’s exit from the White House, I just want to say (completely free of irony): Thanks, Obama. Thanks for the last eight years and for being the greatest president of my admittedly short life.
Now go enjoy a much deserved vacation!