February 19, 2013

The era of presidents that Ed Rogers admires is over.  And many of us are relieved that we will never again have a president who only has his visor set on making the rich richer in the hopes that some of the good fortune will trickle down to the rest of the population. In effect, the 1 percent are giving the rest of us their goodwill and not much of the fortune.


President Obama delivers his inaugural address. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

President Obama has a rich legacy of accomplishments: Do they really need to be repeated, Ed? He brought the country back from the worst economic crisis since the Depression – a crisis created by President George W. Bush. He ended the misguided war in Iraq and has now pledged to do the same in Afghanistan.  He has set the bar high on resurrecting important issues such as domestic manufacturing, principally by saving GM and Chrysler.  And he has reinvigorated the domestic energy industry.  Indeed, domestic oil production has increased, as has the investment in alternative fuels. He fundamentally reformed the banking system with new legislation and regulations to ensure against reckless behavior and abuse of consumer rights. He has made my life and the life of millions of other gay and lesbian Americans better by calling for an end to discrimination in all its forms.  And perhaps his largest domestic achievement to date is that he, unlike the many who have tried before him, presided over a health care reform process that will now bring insurance to the 40 million people who were left out of the equation heretofore – people who work hard and pay their bills and their taxes but couldn’t afford insurance or didn’t have access to a large enough group.

It is a large legacy. One to make any president proud.  But I think that this president’s legacy will be more important than any single piece of domestic legislation. Obama has presided over a shift in politics – a shift in our country. It is a movement more toward economic justice and equality for all.  And he has transformed the nation’s thinking on this, not by taking from the top but by empowering the middle.  By making investments in education and infrastructure and energy and human rights, the president has chosen our next path as a nation.  And it drives folks in the white, privileged GOP crazy.

We will see a fundamental change over the next 50 years as our electorate becomes dominated by minorities and women.  That shift alone will control the debate of the government’s role in our lives.  That is so scary to Ed and his friends that they have to demonize President Obama to try to hold it off, but it is coming.