Saturday, December 3, 2016

What is Obama's Legacy?

In ancient or medieval times (as well as in the 20th century) when a new king or queen took control, the previous ruler's closest relatives, friends, business associates or lovers would often make themselves scarce or even leave the country or kingdom. It could be hazardous to one's health to have a valid competing claim to the throne or to be seen as too friendly to the previous leader. If the new ruler was a paranoid, vindictive, vengeful sort who enjoyed nothing more than bullying people or eliminating perceived threats, he or she might kick off a set of purges. Sometimes the new ruler hated the old ruler so much he or she would forbid the populace from speaking the old ruler's name. If the new ruler was particularly egocentric, fame hungry and thorough he or she might order the elimination of the previous ruler's public works and the striking of the previous ruler's name and accomplishments from history books. Well we don't live in a society where the new President can go quite as far as the kings, queens, pharaohs and emperors of old. Barack Obama's name will live on despite the fact that he will turn over the Presidency to a man with whom he appears to share nothing but mutual disgust. But his accomplishments? That could be a different story. After Trump's inauguration the Republicans can kill ObamaCare, as they have threatened to do many times. President's Obama's executive actions or agency decisions on climate change, immigration and wage policy will all be under the gun. The Iran nuclear deal may be tossed or greatly modified. What is done with a pen and a phone may often be undone with a pen and a phone. Much of President's Obama's legislative or executive achievement could wind up like that puppy dropped off at a shelter by a bored callous family. There's a new sheriff in town, one with rather different priorities. But all may not be lost. A President Trump may well value policy continuity more than we realize. Some Obama initiatives are popular with anti-Obama voters as long as they don't know Obama was behind them. And Trump's cabinet looks as if it will have many of the same banker fat cats he excoriated Clinton for befriending. We'll have to wait to see what actions newly empowered Republicans take under President Trump. President Obama entered office with support from anti-war and pro-civil liberties voters but wound up continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while siding rather forcefully with the national security establishment on whistle blowing cases, domestic spying and surveillance. 

The Presidency gives you a different perspective on things, or at least it should. On the other hand the awesome power of the position can enable someone's worst instincts. I am still amazed that someone who throws temper tantrums on twitter will have nuclear launch codes but life is very strange.

What do you think will be Obama's legacy?

What will you miss (or not miss) about Obama?

What worries you (or excites you) about Trump?

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