Obama faces high expectations in second term

January 24, 2013

This past Monday, President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term. His inauguration speech was a refreshingly progressive call for action, unequivocal about what needs to be done but broad enough to inspire and allow for policy maneuvering. The president has recorded significant legislative achievements in his first term, and has expressed hope for continued progress on fixing the still broken economy and addressing global climate change in the next term. Yet the president’s record also includes a substantial number of misguided policies, most deplorably his unchecked use of drone attacks in foreign nations. These policies will need to change if he is to be remembered as a great president.

With the Affordable Care Act, the Fair Pay Act, and the Wall Street Reform Act, President Obama took major steps toward a more fair and equal nation. But 7.9 percent of Americans remain without work, poverty and income inequality are still near historic highs, and working- and middle-class families continue to struggle to pay for higher education. An overriding focus of the Obama administration must continue to be on reducing unemployment—not through misguided deals to reduce the deficit, but through continued government spending and stable public policy. Without action on the economy, the prospects of our nation’s unemployed and underemployed will continue to be bleak.

While unemployment is a formidable challenge, the greatest problem confronting America today is the threat of global climate change. Surprisingly, the president gave the issue more than one sentence in the inaugural speech, a marked increase from any of his rhetoric since cap-and-trade failed to pass in 2009. Although the president has been a weak advocate for the environment in the past, we hope his address symbolizes a shift in priorities. The key for the president will be to keep the issue at the forefront of the national consciousness as well as to use the full influence of his office to limit carbon emissions and promote clean energy development at home and abroad. (Valium) This includes decisively rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline project.

The president Americans heard on Monday spoke powerfully on behalf of equality and justice for all Americans. Unfortunately, Obama’s greatest weakness is the way he treats the citizens of other nations. Obama declared that enduring security does not require perpetual war, yet his relentless drone strikes in Pakistan—where unmanned drone attacks are six times higher under Obama than Bush—and other foreign nations are just that. There is currently no law or enforceable guidelines on how the administration and the CIA may use drones, even though some estimates place the number of civilian casualties in the thousands. The continued strikes not only violate the Constitution and the rights of Americans, but also severely tarnish the image of the U.S. abroad. America has been weakened by this administration’s use of drones, and it is up to the president to place strict, unambiguous, and public limits on the scope of drone strikes.

If the president can heal the American economy, begin the fight against global warming, and end his misguided use of drones, his legacy as one of the great Democratic presidents will be secure. If he can’t, he risks becoming a president whose substantial achievements were overshadowed by an inability to address the age’s most monumental challenges.

Editorial Board
The Editorial Board is the official opinion of the Georgetown Voice. Its current composition can be found on the masthead. The Board strives to publish critical analyses of events at both Georgetown and in the wider D.C. community. We welcome everyone from all backgrounds and experience levels to join us!


Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments