This morning I woke up sad and upset. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time the reasons are probably obvious, but just in case, an explanatory comma:
I’m a HUGE fangirl of President Obama. I don’t think he’s perfect or the second coming of Christ. But I do think that he has been an incredible president and that history will look back and be ashamed at how our country has treated him. I think his legacy will be a mostly positive one. As a person, I don’t think we’ve ever had nor will ever have again a president with as much integrity, compassion, and grace.
So. This morning I woke up sad about all we’re losing and the burden that we are about to gain.
I’m also a Rachel Maddow fangirl. I tried to work up the courage to put myself forward for the Friday Night News Dumps but, well, I’d probably burst into tears and just repeat, “I LOVE YOU RACHEL!!!!” over and over until they cut the feed.
I say all this to say that I’ll miss having the Obamas in the White House and maybe my composure isn’t the best today (or any day).
Instead of writing about how the last eight years have filled me with hope and how the idea of the next four fill me with fear and ultimately failing to get my thoughts out in the way I want, I’ll put the text from a segment from last night’s Rachel Maddow show below. She says it (with facts*!) better than I ever could.
“In May 2009 a brand new president chose [Sonia Sotomayor] to be his first nominee to the United States Supreme Court. And she bore some insults and some smearing about her perceived intelligence from people in conservative media and from some Republicans in the Senate. She bore some insults along the way but ultimately they confirmed her nomination. 68-39 votes. And in August 2009, Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in and became the first hispanic person to ever serve on the United States Supreme Court.
President Barack Obama should have been able to make three Supreme Court nominations during his time in office because three Supreme Court vacancies arose during his term. But, Republicans blocked him from making his final appointment. He was only able to name two justices to the highest court in the land while he was president. He named Elena Kagan and he named Sonia Sotomayor. And they are the third and fourth women to ever serve as Supreme Court justices in our country and Sonia Sotomayor is the first Latina.
In President Obama’s two terms in office he also named the most diverse cabinet that has ever served the United States Government.
Today, on the last full day of the Obama administration, we learned that the cabinet nominations for the incoming administration are now complete with the announcement that former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue will be the choice to be the new Agriculture Secretary. With that announcement we know that we are about to get the first cabinet since the 1980s that doesn’t have a single person in it who is Latino. They have not announced a single Latino for any of the cabinet positions. They have not announced a single Latino for any of the sub-cabinet jobs that they’ve announced either.
Under President Obama, the high school graduation rate in this country hit 83%. That’s the highest it has ever been in the history of this country.
When President Obama took office in 2009, the country was in an economic free fall, plunging into an economic abyss. Unemployment hit 10%. Unemployment is now at 4.7%.
Under President Obama, we have had 82 straight months of private-sector job growth. That is the longest streak ever in the history of our country of consecutive months in which there have been months of job growth and not job losses.
Under President Obama, we put a rover on Mars.
Under President Obama, we have had the first drop in the federal prison population in decades.
Under President Obama, after a conserted effort by his administration, homelessness among American veterans dropped by half.
Under President Obama, 16 countries around the globe gave up every last ounce of their highly enriched uranium taking away the risk that it could be stolen or misused to assemble the core of a nuclear weapon or to make a dirty bomb.
President Obama convened bi-annual nuclear security summits for the first time in our country to convince other nations to get rid of their loose nuclear material and 16 of them did that completely.
Under President Obama, your credit card company is no longer allowed to raise your interest rate without notifying you.
Under President Obama, if you work for a federal contractor that company you work for can no longer fire you just because you’re gay.
Under President Obama, our country’s dependence on foreign oil plummeted.
Today, on the last day of Obama administration, the CIA published the final update to the online document file that it calls “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf”. Images and translations of all the documents they took out of Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. When Navy SEAL’s were able to go through it all in 2011, we all now have public access to the complete contents of “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf” because President Obama, in 2011, ordered the Navy SEALs into Pakistan on that mission that killed Bin Laden.
Under President Obama, we got our nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.
Under a deal engineered by President Obama, Syria got rid of its chemical weapons. For everything else wrong in Syria, Bashar Al-Assad had a huge chemical weapons arsenal. Under President Obama, it was handed over and destroyed. Certified destroyed by international observers.
Under President Obama, the US Government banned torture by US personnel in all circumstances.
Under President Obama, a US Embassy opened in Cuba. We started to normalize relations between our two countries after a half century of a frozen, failed Cold War standoff.
President Obama overturned the ban on scientific research using stem cells.
President Obama upped, by billions of dollars, the resources available for mental health care in the VA.
The Obama administration was the first administration ever to voluntarily release the lists of people who visited the White House. First presidency to ever do that.
On marriage equality, President Obama did a miraculous thing among politicians: he changed his mind. And under this president, gay couples finally got all the same options as straight couples. You can date. You can get married. You can live in sin. No more excuses, you guys.
Under this president, the FDA started regulating tobacco. Which means that cigarette companies for the first time have to actually tell you what they put in their cigarettes.
When President Obama took office the deficit was about 10% of our GDP. It is now about 3% of our GDP.
Under President Obama, the banks now have to face stress tests so they can no longer take the whole economy down with them when they collapse because of their own risky practices.
Under President Obama, banks can no longer use your money that you deposit in that bank to make risky bets for their own profits.
After 9/11, the previous administration built a government registry that targeted Muslim men. Under President Obama, that registry was scrapped amidst fears that the next administration might re-up it.
President Obama cracked down on the scam, for-profit colleges that happily took the money that you borrowed with your student loans but then didn’t give you an education in exchange for that money. The Obama administration shut down the bullpucky (sorry, Rachel, no clue how you spell this!) accreditor that said that those colleges were real colleges when they were not.
Under President Obama, solitary confinement was banned for juveniles serving time in federal prison.
Under President Obama, our secret overseas prisons got shut down.
Under the previous administration, when the remains of US service members were flown home in flag-draped caskets to the air base at Dover, that was a secret and there were no cameras allowed. Under President Obama, that secrecy order was undone and now, under President Obama, the government will pay travel expense for the families of fallen soldiers to be there when their loved one’s remains arrive on that tarmac.
Under President Obama, the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ban was repealed in the military. As was the ban on transgender soldiers serving openly. And all combat positions were opened to women.
President Obama arguably saved Medicare. He made Medicare solvent for years to come because he slowed down the growth of health care costs which were eating that program.
President Obama also, inarguably, saved the US auto industry. He saved the US auto industry. Reorganized GM. They paid back their bailout money and American auto makers are now among the largest, most profitable car companies in the world and millions of American jobs tell that tale.
Tens of billions of dollars that used to get paid to the banks for writing student loan programs instead now go to Pell grants to help people go to college who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
Oh, and you can’t be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.
And you can’t be charged more for your health insurance because you’re a woman.
And your health insurance can’t put a lifetime cap on what you’re “allowed to need” because of your health care.
And 20 million Americans got health insurance because of President Obama.
And for the first time ever the number of uninsured people in our country is in single digits. More than 90% of the country has health insurance now.
And quietly along the way, yes he did apoint the most diverse cabinet ever. And he appointed a record number of women judges. And minority judges. And they will stay there after he is gone. Including the first Latina Supreme Court Justice. Daughter of Selena and Juan, who came from Puerto Rico.
And so, this is the last day of President Obama’s two terms in office. He’s being replaced by someone who said that President Obama was secretly foreign. Not really American. Fake. Unqualified to be president. The incoming president called President Obama “stupid”. Called him a “disaster”. He also fought to have a federal judge removed from a fraud case against him on the sheer basis of the fact that the judge was Latino. “He’s a Mexican,” he said. As if that was self-explanatory as to why that judge should not be allowed to hear his case.
Everybody who supported the things that President Obama was able to accomplish during his two terms in office now, overnight, moves into a different position as American citizens. And, in this part of your life, if you like what President Obama was able to do in his eight years in office, all the things that I just mentioned, this is the part of your life now where you will become somebody who doesn’t support those things. You will become someone who defends those things.
Because the incoming president and what we’re about to experience tomorrow, that does reflect the continuous peaceful transfer of power in our country as we have had for more than two centuries. But also, and at almost every level, it indicates a reversal and ultimately an attack on everything the outgoing president has stood for and has embodied over these last eight years.
And they will try to undo everything they can. But they can’t undo everything.”
Thank you for everything you did and tried to do, President Obama.
* I’d love to add citations to all of these – though I’m sure that they’ve been fact-checked to death – but I’m incredibly strapped for time today. If I’m able, I’ll add them over the next few weeks. If you have citations for anything please drop them in the comments and I’ll be sure to update!