Dr. E. Faye Williams
TriceEdney — I’ve always been intrigued with the symbolism used to depict change from one year to another. It’s interesting to see my 365 days through a year represented by a decrepit old man who’d been a baby just 365 days before!
I’m more amazed that the symbolism hasn’t changed and that millions who bear no resemblance in appearance or gender have their aspirations and lives represented by them. I question if the longevity of these symbols is unintended traditionalism or representative of a last vestige of white male dominance over society.
If the latter is true, we’ve lived the last 7 years in a contradictory new reality. It’s a reality I embrace and as an unapologetic supporter of our President, I’ve welcomed his leadership, decision-making and guidance of our nation. He’s the only President in decades who demonstrates an interest in the welfare of Americans who reside in the lower socio-economic half of the population.
Many blinded by Washington politics have overlooked the fact that in 366 days we will have come to a virtual end of the Obama Era. Because time doesn’t wait, now is the time to review the impact of President Obama on our lives and reflect on his potential for success in 2016.
Recent headlines praise President Obama for fixing the economy broken by Bush. This is partially the result of an improving employment picture. He’s added 197,000 private sector jobs to the economy in November. This extended a pattern of employment growth for every month in 2015 and for the 68 consecutive months before then. There is more to be done, but it is rightly said that President Obama has put America back to work.
More Americans are working and more are healthier. The milestone of health coverage for over 90% of Americans, achieved in 2015, is a national first. Each day, the ACA affirms, instead of a privilege of wealth, affordable health care is a right of citizenship.
Unlike many of his predecessors, President Obama recognizes diplomacy as preferable to conflict. Although criticized by warmongers who’ve never served in the military, Obama foreign policy standards have lessened the potential for US involvement in war. We’ve restored diplomatic relations with Cuba and led multi-lateral negotiations preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weaponry. Talks in Paris have yielded an agreement between 200 nations for combating climate change.
To my great shock, a Congressional bi-partisan budget plan produced:
- Investments in research, early education, job development and public infrastructure
- Tax credits benefitting 24 million families
- 500,000 jobs with investments in defense and non-defense programs
- Consumer protections
- Extension of tax credit for investments in “clean” energy
Signed in December, the Every Student Succeeds Act eliminated No Child Left Behind and set realistic learning targets specifically tailored by individual states for their respective student populations. Rather than demanding across-the-board success in standardized testing, ESSA promotes local innovation, replicates successful initiatives and invests in instruction that works.
This partial list of the President’s achievements for 2015 would be considered a commendable record for another’s full term. More impressive are signals of more to come in 2016! Some suggest that 2016 targets include closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; a renewed push for increasing the minimum wage, getting a handle on guns and criminal justice reform.
Closing ‘Gitmo’ would create a windfall for our economy. Raising the minimum wage would improve the quality of life for millions of Americans while ending unintended subsidies to businesses that employ workers who rely on public assistance to live at poverty levels. He’s dealt with harsh sentences, already introduced revised judicial sentencing guidelines and endorsed the de-militarization of local police.
Looking backwards or forward, the Obama Administration demonstrates past service to average citizens and a commitment for their improved future.
(Dr. E. Faye Williams can be reached at: www.nationalcongressbw.org. , or at: 202/678-6788)