Barack Obama - The journey so far
"I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on in our time."
These lines were spoken by Barack Obama, two-days before being sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States of America. Obama created history and became the first African-American President of US after the 2008 elections.
Months after being sworn-in and taking official charge of the Oval office in 2009, Obama won the Nobel Peace prize awarded by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
"Change has come to America."
- Barack Obama
Touted as the candidate of change, the United States was looking for a leader that would pull them out of the severe economic crisis which they were facing at the time and Obama seemed to be the answer to their problems.
The focus of his Presidency was employment, health care and Middle East.
"The 533,000 jobs lost last month, the worst job loss in 34 years, is more than a dramatic reflection of the growing economic crisis we face. Each of those lost jobs represents a personal crisis for a family somewhere in America. Our economy has already lost nearly 2 million jobs during this recession, which is why we need an Economic Recovery Plan that will save or create at least 2.5 million more jobs over two years while we act decisively to maintain the flows of credit on which so many American families and American businesses depend... There are no quick or easy fixes to this crisis, which has been many years in the making, and it`s likely to get worse before it gets better." - Barack Obama
Obama took the realms of Presidency at a time when the country was facing economic recession and there were reportedly around 2.5 million people who were unemployed.
Obama did not deliver much on his promise during his tenure as president; however, the unemployment figure dropped to 7.8 per cent bringing the unemployment rate to the minimal level since 2009, according to a recent report.
In fact, during one of the recent Presidential debates for the upcoming polls, Obama batted for another term of Presidency by comparing himself to Franklin D Roosevelt who was elected as the President four times and was instrumental in the recovery of United States after the Great Depression.
A prominent achievement during his term as a President was introduction of The Affordable Care Act. The health care plan costing around $938 billion would expand coverage to all American citizens. According to the plan, the citizens will have to buy health insurance plan by 2014 or they will be penalised through their taxes. The plan, however, would not cover cost for abortion.
The plan faced resistance from Republicans with the Attorney Generals from various states declaring it unconstitutional.
However, the Supreme Court ruling permitting the major part of the reform put an end to the debate, marking it as a huge step in healthcare reforms.
Obama also worked towards providing an equal pay for the citizens irrespective of gender. Soon after taking over the office of President, Obama signed his first bill - Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that fights pay discrimination and prohibits wage disparity between men and women and ensures that every worker receives equal pay for equal work.
One of the major accomplishments during Obama`s tenure has been the elimination of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda leader and the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks.
The incumbent President while delivering a speech at the Cairo University in 2009 spoke on moving beyond the Iraq war and the 9/11 attacks for a "new beginning between United States and Muslims around the world."
Now, as his term as a President ends, Obama`s policy on Middle East has been much-talked about. He had ended the Iraq war, ordered withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by 2014 and imposed various sanctions on Iran in a bid to halt its nuclear weapons programme.
On the other hand, decisions like the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp is yet to happen. Even Obama`s intervention in the ongoing Syrian crisis calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down and his support to the rebels has not gone down well with many.
Also, the decision to launch drone attacks on countries like Pakistan to kill al Qaeda militants has drawn negative reactions.
The threat of violence from `jihad` is always looming.
With the upcoming US Presidential polls, what remains to be seen is whether the Americans are willing to give Barack Obama another chance as a President and most importantly, if elected, will he be able to bring about the change he had promised and what the US citizens were hoping for in his second term.