I voted for you in 2008 and you have my support for a 2nd term as President. While I was initially hesitant during the primaries, I warmed to your ideas and inspiring message of change in Washington. Many of us had high hopes for a more effective government, one able to work toward the progressive change we desperately needed. Alas, the political realities burst that bubble all too quickly due in large part to a minority Republican Party determined to place its own designs on power above the needs of a struggling country. But many also found they could not reconcile the icon created in voters’ minds throughout the campaign with the man who entered the White House after the election. While each of us harbor disappointments over what did not come to pass, there are many who appreciate and are capable of recognizing the accomplishments you have made despite overwhelming opposition.
As I considered all that has transpired over the past 3 ½ years I found a number of reasons to vote for you once again. Here is a list of the prominent ones;
Your administration, in conjunction with the Democrat-led Congress and the Federal Reserve, acted quickly to shore up a financial system and job market in free fall, held us back from a entering a depression and, as the CBO director put it in congressional testimony back in 2010, the “…aggressive action by the Federal Reserve and the fiscal stimulus package helped moderate the severity of the recession and shorten its duration.”
You and congressional Democrats put your own political careers at risk to produce the most meaningful health care reform this country has seen in 45 years in an effort to expand access to care for nearly 30 million uninsured Americans. While some may criticize you for abandoning the public option, these individuals forget the ardent opposition and misinformation campaign waged against it, culminating in Senator Joe Lieberman’s last minute reversal, deciding to vote against any reform with such a measure. This, as you know, is what effectively struck the the final nail in the coffin of the Public Option.
Against significant opposition you decided to bailout the American auto industry which resulted in an undeniable success, so much so that your presidential challenger is now attempting to credit himself with the idea. But many, even some fellow liberals, claim you chose big business over struggling Americans. These views fail to take in the bigger picture. Your critics do not consider the average Americans employed by the industry itself, the parts manufacturers, the shippers who transport those parts, the auto dealerships or the communities where those very workers and businesses reside. It would appear these bailouts did more for the average American than your critics care to admit.
You and the Democratic-led Congress reinstated many of the very regulations whose repeal led to the Great Recession. These new regulations include provisions for a controlled “winding down” of failing financial institutions eliminating the need for taxpayer bailouts in the future, something your Republican counterparts have tried to reverse.
You and congressional Democrats created the Consumer Financial and Protection Bureau (CFPB) which, as you know, is tasked with ensuring contractual language and documents from banks, credit card companies, mortgage brokers, payday lenders, student loan providers and other financial institutions are understandable to average consumers. It seeks to educate consumers so people can make financial decisions based on sound comparison and assessment of all available information.
You lobbied for New Deal style work projects in an effort to return Americans’ to work. You pushed for infrastructure investment and maintenance, you pressed Congress for national passenger railway funding which many GOP-led states refused to take. You pushed for broadband internet expansion into rural areas and continued to advance your transportation legislation through Congress. Yet at every turn these efforts were hampered by a GOP intent on holding firm to an agenda of austerity.
Your first act as President was to sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a bill designed to break down wage discrimination barriers for women. Since then you have made it a point to eliminate inequality at numerous levels.
You made reinvestments in education and career transition training, advanced policy to make college more affordable and to assist students with student loans.
You eliminated Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and have stood up for LGTB rights and just yesterday officially backed the rights of same-sex couples to marry.
Under your leadership we have seen a marked improvement in the economy. Of the 8.7 million jobs lost since September 2008 including the 4.3 million lost under your administration virtually all those lost since your time in office have been regained. We’ve seen GDP go from 0.4% in March 2011 to 3.0% in the 4th quarter of that year. It has dropped to 2.2% in the first quarter of 2012 but with a historical average of 3.8% and the fact that we’re in a recovery, there isn’t much room for criticism.
Despite all these accomplishments, Mr. President you still have your detractors many of whom are from your own party. They seek to punish you for not implementing all of your campaign promises or for pursuing all of their agenda items.
You were criticized for extending the Bush Tax cuts. While this was against a campaign promise, your critics forget you agreed to their continuance only to ensure benefits for unemployed Americans were extended through the 2011 holiday season.
Another criticism which I’m sure is ever-present on your mind is the broken promise to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities. But your many critics apparently disregard your continued efforts to do just that amidst a coordinated opposition and fear-mongering strategy against such attempts and an unwilling Congress.
From the onset your decision not to pursue war crime prosecutions against George Bush and Dick Cheney has been met with harsh criticisms from left-wing members of your base. While satisfying to witness the net benefits to the nation of such an event would have been negligible. In the midst of a massive economic crisis as the one we were facing such a diversion would have only wasted time and resources much better allocated to slowing our descent into a possible depression. Instead you took a page from President Ford when he decided to pardon Richard Nixon, recognizing it is the President’s “duty, not merely to proclaim domestic tranquility but to use every means that I have to insure it.” You realized, as did he, it was simply time to move on and hope this gesture would foster a cooperative climate in Washington after many contentious years. Unfortunately, this did not come to pass and you were fought every step of the way by a unified opposition forged on the very night of your inauguration.
As you enter this new election cycle and hear the constant drumbeat of criticism in your ear, remember one thing… it is always easier to criticize those who govern than to govern yourself. It takes character to forge ahead with what is best for the country as a whole rather than bending to the demands of a few.
Best of luck to you Mr. President, with hopes for another 4 years.
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