The Obama years


The Appalachian Online

Cassidy Chambers

We can’t get on social media without being bombarded with unfounded opinions, political arguments or, sometimes humorous, political memes.

Throughout President Barack Obama’s term he was repeatedly regarded as one of America’s worst presidents, especially by our new leader.

However, when you ask someone why they disapprove of the Obama administration the response we receive is often the same — they lack knowledge of his policies, but they know based on their party or popular opinion that they do not like him.

During this transitional period of getting used to how our new president operates, I thought it would be nice to accentuate some of Obama’s substantial accomplishments that went unnoticed.

Prior to the Obama administration,  little effort was geared toward putting an end to human trafficking.

According to Washington Monthly, in 2012 President Obama signed an executive order to strengthen the government’s zero tolerance policy on human trafficking

The administration partnered with Humanity United to expand health and legal services to trafficking victims by creating Partnership for Freedom, an organization that’s purpose is to innovate solutions to this issue.

They have also allocated funds for training to identify and assist victims in each level of government.

In a progressive effort, the administration launched the “Counter-Trafficking in Persons Campus Challenge” to promote activism and raise awareness among college students.

Furthermore, climate change has become undeniable.

While in office, Obama improved the quality of water, increased funding and started new funds for climate research and improved our climate change data recording systems among other initiatives.

To start off, President George W. Bush and his administration allowed perchlorate to be exempt from federal regulation.

According to PolitiFact, this chemical can interfere with the production of hormones needed for necessary growth and development.

This was later reversed in Obama’s first term, and on top of this EPA administrator Lisa Jackson established regulation preventing 16 carcinogenic chemicals from being present in water. Approved by the House Appropriations Committee, a bill was passed to raise federal funding for national parks and forests.

PolitiFact’s “Obamameter” tells us he increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

This effort allotted money to conserve new parks and public lands with a focus on ecosystems in the Great Plains and Eastern forests.

According to PolitiFact, immediately after taking office in 2008, he came through on his promise to support funds to preserve climate data records, including data from the extent of sea ice at the poles to the energy emitted from clouds.

To some degree, most of us have participated in some sort of movement for civil rights.

We’ve watched Obama lead the march for equal rights for the LGBTQ community, beginning with his repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” for the first time enabling gays and lesbians who choose to serve our country to be open about their identities.

Moreover, as reported by The Obama White House Archives, Obama signed the first major piece of legislation pertaining to civil rights that protect the LGBTQ community.

The Matthew Shepard Act considers crimes against the LGBTQ community to be of hate and Obama amended the outdated 1969 federal hate-crime law.

Obama was also a large supporter of the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that classified marriage as the unity between a man and a woman, and gave powers to the states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.

This disallowed couples from receiving federal marriage benefits.

President Obama is an underrated president whose service and accomplishments have been widely unknown, largely due to our media.

Nevertheless, if you dig deep enough you can uncover some pretty great accomplishments of not just Obama – but former leaders as well.

In such a polarizing, divisive time in America it can be enlightening to read about times that our government has come together to bring great ideas, such as these, to life.

It restores hope in our politicians by showing that not all their motivations are crooked or bad, and it provides hope that despite obstacles we can continue to build upon the principles that our Founding Fathers set out for us.

Cassidy Chambers is sophomore political science major from Hendersonville, North Carolina