In 2008 The Michigan Daily endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama for president of the United States. His platform was inspiring — his rhetoric, extraordinary. Young people here at the University of Michigan and across the country participated in the campaign and election at historic levels. Many volunteered for Obama’s effort with hopes of “change” — a scope that excitingly included addressing climate change, civil rights, immigration and health care overhaul.
Four years later, much of the rhetoric hasn’t reflected policy or sweeping change. Politicians, presidents included, can only change the country so much — Obama has faced a historic recession, a deadlocked Congress and an ever-changing world. Obama, however, has done a remarkable job considering the gridlock and barriers he has faced thus far.
Obama has most clearly excelled in the realm of foreign policy. While he hasn’t been the progressive social activist many expected and conservatives still fear, he has lived up to many of his foreign policy initiatives. From successfully locating and killing Osama bin Laden to winding down wars the in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has taken significant strides toward ending our nation’s longest and most expensive foreign entanglements. Obama also successfully signed an arms control treaty with Russia, presenting a united front against Iran’s nuclear program, which marked an important milestone for nuclear disarmament, despite Iran’s agenda.
Obama also promotes a variety of sound social policies. The politically convenient manner in which Obama endorsed same-sex marriage doesn’t change the fact that he is the first sitting president to do so. Obama extended benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees, granting the same rights that all employees and their families enjoy. He has also appointed the greatest number of openly gay officials in U.S. history. He also signed off on the end to the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy so those serving our country can do so with full integrity.
Though Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is using the current state of the economy as a selling point for his campaign, Obama has handled the economy quite remarkably. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — a $787-billion stimulus package — Obama created between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs. He also established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among other consumer protections in the wake of Wall Street’s collapse as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Students, especially those in college, have also benefitted greatly from Obama’s policies in spite of the economic downturn. In May, Congress successfully kept the student loan interest rate subsidy at 3.4 percent with the president’s support.
Perhaps Obama’s biggest achievement is the Affordable Care Act, a milestone that was decades in the making. By 2022, 33 million previously uninsured Americans will have health coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Children can also now stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, and the act makes sure those with pre-existing conditions can’t be denied health coverage.
It most likely won’t come as a surprise that The Michigan Daily endorses Obama for president — his administration has been successful against great odds.
Romney, on the other hand, has campaigned on a constantly shifting platform. His policies and past beliefs have ranged from Tea Party conservatism to almost liberal progressivism — his Massachusetts health care policy became the model for Obama’s health care reforms. His lack of consistency begs the question: which incarnation would a President Romney govern as?
Romney also seems to be out of touch with certain issues, particularly those affecting students. During a visit to Otterbein University on April 27, Romney said to students, “Take a risk. Get the education. Borrow money, if you have to, from your parents.” This cavalier attitude isn’t the right way to pursue higher education policy, and this may be indicative of Romney’s ignorance of the financial state of many American families.
However, our endorsement of Obama can’t be as enthusiastic as it was four years ago. Obama’s progressive rhetoric hardly matches his centrist policies. While it’s important for Obama to work across the aisle, he should also be more assertive in his beliefs — a president has to play politics, too.
Obama has the ability to lead this nation through the challenging and confusing era we’re in — and with another four years we believe he can do so. Romney’s platform represents backward social policy and dispassionate economic policies.
Students across the country campaigned for Obama in 2008 for a good reason. He’s pragmatic and has done his best to help struggling students. A president must lead the country — through words and actions — into a future that improves the quality of life for Americans and for the rest of the world. Vote for President Barack Obama to keep us on this path.