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  • Let’s be clear about something: Barack Obama has been one of the most consequential presidents

  • in recent American history

  • "You can't say it, but you know it's true."

  • In the past eight years, he has completely

  • transformed the American healthcare system. He got tough reforms to Wall Street passed

  • after the biggest financial crisis in decades.

  • He appointed

  • two of the 4 women to ever serve on the supreme court, both of whom were part of the historic

  • decision legalizing same sex marriage. He put in place the toughest climate regulations

  • in American history. He opened the US to Cuba for the first time in half a century. And

  • he reached a peaceful settlement to the nuclear standoff with Iran that lasted for a decade

  • before he took office. You can celebrate or bemoan these accomplishments.

  • Liberals will think theyre great, conservatives will think theyre awful. But it’s

  • hard to deny that theyre big deals.

  • So…. where do we start? Obamacare is a big fucking deal.

  • For at least 100 years, the big goal of American liberals on domestic policy was to get a national

  • health insurance program done. A lot of countries implemented universal health

  • care in the 20th centurythe UK, Canada, Francebut the US always lagged behind.

  • There were attempt after attempt after attempt by American progressives of both parties to

  • try to get the US to where everyone else was going. And each of those attempts failed.

  • Teddy Roosevelt failed, FDR failed, Truman failed, Nixon failed, Carter failed, Clinton

  • failedand then Obama succeeded.

  • And he established for the first time in American history that healthcare is a right.

  • The plan still leaves millions uninsured, but it laid

  • a foundation for universal health care.

  • To understand what Obama did for foreign policy, you have to go back to a moment in 2007, this

  • moment in particular: “Would you be willing to meet separately

  • without preconditions, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela,

  • Cuba, and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”

  • Obama: “I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to

  • countries is punishment to them, which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this

  • administration, is ridiculous.” So, this was considered a gaffe. The safe

  • thing that youre supposed to say isyeah, diplomacy’s great, well talk to some

  • people, but there have to be preconditions. No preconditions is silly.” And this is

  • what other Democrats did say at the time . But he didn’t accept that.

  • And with two of the countries listed in that questionIran and CubaObama led some

  • of the biggest changes to those diplomatic relationships in recent history.

  • I’d be remiss in not mentioning the importance of the fact that Obama is the first black

  • president. After 8 years it seems obvious to point out

  • But the history of America is a history of learning to deal with racial diversity, and

  • with the legacy of white supremacy. In a very real way the history of America is the history

  • of race relations. There’s a famous photo that still hangs

  • in the White House of a black toddler in the White House who asked to touch president Obama’s

  • hair because he thought it was great that the president had hair that looked like his.

  • It seems cheesy, but it really is a big deal that a generation of black children are going

  • to grow up knowing that they could be the president.

  • Overall it’s a pretty extensive track record. You can generally divide American presidents

  • into two camps. There are the ones who were maybe a little good, a little bad, but are

  • sorta forgettable: Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Zachary Taylor, William Howard Taft,

  • Bill Clinton. And then there are the ones who were

  • hugely consequential either for good: FDR (ending the depression, winning WWII), Lincoln

  • (winning the civil war), George Washington (establishing what a president is), or for ill.

  • Andrew Johnson, destroying reconstruction

  • and subjugating black people for a century. Andrew Jackson committing genocide or ethnic

  • cleansing against the Southeast Indians. I think it’s hard to argue that Obama is

  • in the sorta iffy, “ehcamp rather than the big consequential camp. He did a lot, he accomplished

  • a lot. And I think in the next 10 or 20 years when

  • we have a bunch more presidents many more

  • of whom are alright or slightly bad but ultimately forgettable.

  • Were going to look back and realize what a rare thing a presidency that active and that

  • accomplished is.

Let’s be clear about something: Barack Obama has been one of the most consequential presidents

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Why Obama is one of the most consequential presidents in American history

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    g2 posted on 2016/11/05
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