Thanks, Obama

Reflecting on the last eight years

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Thanks, Obama

Written By Beth Turnbull, Co-Opinions Editor

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No president is perfect; we know this as Americans. But the president is the face of our country, and we have been blessed to see President Barack Obama be the face of our country for the past eight years.

It seems like lifetimes have passed since President Obama was first elected. I was in fifth grade in 2008, and let’s just say I regret voting for Senator John McCain in my school’s mock election. Peer pressure can get to you in small, conservative towns.

Watching the president during his two terms in office has been a privilege. I have been able to grow up witnessing him fight for human rights and be celebrated (most of the time) for it. I have been inspired to speak out and fight for my own beliefs. These past eight years have inspired my political heart unlike anything else.

We have a lot to be thankful for. LGBT couples have won the right to marry. Millions of women have gained access to preventative care such as mammograms and contraception. The Affordable Care Act allowed for 20 million Americans to have health insurance and enabled children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26, a benefit I am grateful for.

The Obama family has led our great country with dignity and grace. We were lucky to see the first couple show not only respect for each other, but also deep affection. They raised their children outside of the public eye and allowed them as much normalcy as possible.

First Lady Michelle Obama led important initiatives to combat childhood obesity, worked to provide education and employment to veterans and their families and fought for a girl’s right to education worldwide.

We also have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to our vice president, Joe Biden (or Uncle Joe, as I like to call him). Vice-President Biden is a vocal advocate against sexual assault on college campuses and the leader of several initiatives to build America’s workforce. His decades of service have reflected his love of country. President Obama even awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom last week.

His wife, Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, is a full-time community college professor who has worked hard to bring attention to the sacrifices of military families. She is a strong advocate for education, especially community colleges.

These families have left their mark on our nation policy-wise, but they have also left their mark through their humanity and personal strengths.

No one will be able to top President Obama’s hilarious and highly nuanced speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinners. No other First Lady will be as funny on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” or an episode of James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” while promoting women’s education in a relatable and attainable way.

President Obama and Mrs. Obama have led this country and raised their two daughters under harsh criticism from Americans on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats alike. They weren’t perfect. President Obama deported two million people between 2010 and 2014. The prison at Guantánamo Bay is still open. But, it is my firm opinion that our president’s legacy – the good he did – will not be easily swept aside.

It is a difficult time for the Democrats, myself included. We are facing a terrifying Republican president, a Republican House and Senate and an empty seat on the Supreme Court.

We the people must remain strong and united and raise our voices to protect the work of the last eight years. We will not step down; that is how we will show our thanks to the Obama family once and for all.

As the president said in his Farewell Address, “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.”

Yes, we can. Yes, we did. Yes, we will.

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