Opinions on Obama’s legacy sharply divided

Grant Dufrene

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Eight years after his historic election in 2008, Barack Obama will soon leave office as president of the United States, to be replaced by President-elect Donald Trump.

According to Roger White, Loyola political science professor, Obama’s inauguration into office as the first black president was a turning point considering the United States’ history of slavery, discrimination and struggle for civil rights.

“President Barack Obama has caused a great demographic shift in the country, especially with a multicultural component. There has been more of an emphasis on pluralism, diversity and inclusion than ever before,” White said.

But not everyone agrees with the idea that President Obama has done enough for inclusion.

“He has been the most divisive president since I can remember, though he claimed he would heal us,” William Barnett, Loyola economics professor, said.

Barnett cited Obama’s economic policies, which included greater government intervention in the economy, as the primary reason he feels that Obama failed.

“Our country has seen the worst period in its economy since the great depression under the Obama Administration,” Barnett said. “Obama has doubled the national debt. He’s added about ten trillion dollars, which is almost as much as the entire [legacy] of presidents who came before him.”

White disagreed, saying, “President Obama will be remembered for successfully getting us out of the recession that could have been devastating for the country.”

“Obama’s stimulus program was a way to infuse money into the economy through construction projects, like roads, bridges and other infrastructure. It seems President-elect Donald Trump took some notes because he is advocating for a similar plan,” White said.

“Obama was able to get the unemployment rate down from double digits to 4.9 percent. Economic growth has been slow, but in the beginning of his term, we were in a negative growth, and now we are at about a 1.9 percent consistent growth.”

White also cites foreign policy under Obama as a positive mark of his achievement.

“On an international level, President Obama will be recognized as someone who has prevented us from getting ever more deeply involved in foreign conflicts, getting our allies more involved and building a coalition of countries when it comes to involvement in international conflict,” White said.

Barnett disagreed, saying that “too much money has been put into futile military ventures overseas.”

President Obama currently enjoys his highest approval rating in years, holding a 53.9 percent rating in the RealClearPolitics average. His highest rating came shortly after taking office in 2009, when it reached 65.5 percent. He has never experienced an average rating below 40 percent at any point during his presidency. According to Gallup, he is the first president since John F. Kennedy to hold this mark, and the only president that served at least a full term to hold it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email