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International Honor Society in Social Sciences
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STUDENT SHADOW PRESIDENT UPDATE 

Change is still in order: Four years of Obama

Dr. Anderson
Newly elected Student Shadow President
Dr. Matthew Anderson

Barack Obama set upon his journey for the presidency in 2008 and “change” was his slogan. To many people in the United States, Obama represented “hope” for change in a system of politics that seemingly had become contradictory to the very democratic principles the country was founded on. Common people around the country of all races and ethnicities were so desperate for change that electing the first “Black” president became a reality by a landslide margin.  After over 1000 days of Obama’s presidency, new data reflect the existence of increased poverty, debt, and unemployment. According to the U. S. Office of Management and Budget, the United States has taken on $4 trillion in public debt since Obama took office in 2008, while federal spending has occurred at the rate of $6.6 million per minute. Unemployment has climbed to 9 percent with 3 million more Americans unemployed since Obama became president.  President Obama’s bailout of the automobile and banking industries was met with stark criticism and dissatisfaction from ordinary citizens who couldn’t fathom being denied unemployment benefits and other forms of assistance, when banks and automobile companies that have made billions of dollars are given money.  The stimulus package did stimulate the economy.

The president’s biggest accomplishments in his first term come in the military and counterterrorism arenas in which he pledged to differ from his predecessor, George W. Bush.  Obama, in his 2008 campaign, mentioned how his diplomacy differed from the coercive militaristic dogmatism that characterized the eight years of Bush’s political program and agenda, yet it has been pointed out that, under Obama’s watch, the use of drones to carry out “targeted assassinations” has increased significantly compared to when Bush was in office.  Bush started the targeted-assassinations program, and Obama has expanded the program which now grants the president power to kill any U.S. citizen deemed a threat without judicial review.  Obama can boast about having overseen the operations that killed Muammar Khadafy of Libya and Al Qaeda’s Osama Bin Laden and Anwar al‑Awlaki.  Repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” provision in the military is viewed as an Obama accomplishment during his first term in office. Obama is viewed as doing well in protecting and keeping the United States safe from terrorists, but failing miserably with the economy.

Government stonewalling is holding up President Obama’s $447-billion jobs bill, a bill that many believe that Obama will have to get passed in order to get reelected.  President Obama at recent fund raisers in New York voiced frustration with Washington stonewalling and believes that this diminishes public confidence in his leadership abilities. President Obama also suggested that his accomplishments in his first term were health-care reform, ending the war in Iraq, and eliminating key Al Qaeda members. President Obama believes that he needs another term in order to thoroughly address the issues that have beset the nation.

In 2008 Obama displayed the charisma of a true transformational leader capable of ushering in the needed change in Washington, D.C.  He has met stiff opposition from the Republicans as expected.  If President Obama wins this November’s election and gets four more years, the nation will await his response to the state of the economy and rising unemployment. Innovative strategies are needed which may require the president to seek the counsel of true “systems” thinkers.  President Obama, who seemed to be a transformational leader when he ran in 2008, needs to present a vision of where the country should go relative to stimulating the economy and creating jobs.  Previous administrations have stressed the need for the United States to move beyond reliance upon the automobile and the dependency on foreign oil.  President Obama must reinforce the idea that the country must devise innovative strategies to make the nation less dependent on the automobile and foreign oil.  The United States needs to move towards building rail systems to link all of its major cities.  Rail, at one time, was a dominant and efficient mode of transportation in the nation at a time when one in 10 people owned cars deemed by most to be noisy, dangerous, and polluting.  Rail systems, which were a highly efficient form of travel, were dismantled in nearly all major cities by the 1970s.

Enhanced urban rail systems can provide thousands of jobs, and will reduce the dependency on foreign oil.  There are major cities and their metropolises in the nation that could and would benefit from rail systems.  Building rail systems in major cities can also produce jobs in urban areas. Infrastructure repair has been mentioned by the president several times when discussing jobs and stimulating the economy.  The nation’s streets, bridges, and tunnels all need work.  A national initiative to repair the country’s crumbling infrastructure could be launched to put many people to work.  President Obama needs to emphasize more “corporate social responsibility” with the major corporations such as banks and automobile and oil companies, in order that they invest back into communities that have given them profits. The automobile companies have made tremendous profits for years, yet have scant infrastructure investments in cities in which they conduct business, as is evident in big cities like Detroit, which has some of the highest unemployment in the entire country.  The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was a government regulation enacted to enhance organizational fiscal accountability and protect investors.  President Obama needs to draft regulations in the area of corporate social responsibility to ensure that organizations are investing into the communities in which they operate.

Automobile companies have to be held more accountable by the federal government relative to the environment and communities they have made profits from.  Many of the problems that exist on the economic front could be softened and made more manageable if organizations and corporations were held more accountable for community investment.  Enhanced or increased corporate-social-responsibility regulations for organizations and corporations calling for considerable investment into community infrastructure could help repair the country that has suffered during the recession.  Change is still needed.  When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, issues of race and ethnicity were at the forefront.  Four years later the country appears to be in economic ruin and the issues are divisions along class and income lines.  Have and have-not conditions are exacerbated and more pronounced.  We need the president to be a transformational leader and give the nation a vision and direction recognized and accepted to be the path towards the country’s resurrection — a vision that will guide future administrations.  Sadly and to the dissatisfaction of many, President Obama has not been the change agent he projected himself to be when he ran in 2008. President Obama’s four-year report card mark is a C-.

Dr. Matthew Anderson
Shadow President

 

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