This week is Barack Obama’s final as the 44th President of the United States. Like many, I’ve been incredibly emotional about President Obama leaving office on Friday. He was a president that transcended previous norms that had accompanied the office, and the same could be said for the First Lady, Michelle. The purpose of this editorial is to not ensue into more political mudslinging, but more as a tribute to the outgoing First Family, and the impact they’ve had on this country for the past eight years. I can’t speak for everyone when I say this, but as an American, I’ve felt incredibly blessed and fortunate to have a role model like Barack Obama in my life for the past eight years.
I still remember the first time I ever saw or heard the name “Barack Obama”. I woke up early one Sunday morning in 2007. My father had Meet the Press on the television, and Tim Russert was interviewing the then-U.S. Senator from Illinois. I can’t quite remember what he was talking about, but I remember being drawn to him unlike any politician I had ever seen on television at that young of an age. He was brilliant but relatable, humble but powerful. My father told me that his name was Barack Obama, and there was a very strong chance that he could be the next President of the United States.
Cut to a few months later when Mr. Obama announced his campaign. I had grown up with politics as a kid because of my father, so I watched his campaign pretty intently, even for a 10-year-old. I tried to watch as many political speeches and rallies whenever my folks had CNN on the television. The Bush administration had brought a headache and hardship on the country, and Barack Obama’s message of Hope and Change resonated with me and millions of other Americans in ways that few have come close to.
Since I was so young, I couldn’t actually vote for Mr. Obama. But I was able to proudly cast my vote for him (twice!) in a mock election in my middle school and then high school for his second term. I remember I got in “trouble” on Election Day for wearing my Obama ’08 t-shirt for the mock election, but nobody seemed to be bothered by it too much.
The election of Barack Obama was unlike anything I’d ever seen or experienced. It was exhilarating. An African-American has now become the most powerful man on the planet. LBJ’s Great Society had come true. Hope and Change was coming to the country. Cut to a few months later when the inauguration happened, and it was all too surreal at that moment. I didn’t think that racism had ended in America, but I felt that the country was on the road to a bigger and brighter future. That “Great Society” that LBJ had envisioned.
It would take me too long to list every single one of President Obama’s achievements in office, but I want to get to the ones that meant the most to me and to people around me. Since it’s become a pretty hot topic recently, the Affordable Care Act was not perfect, but is responsible for saving the lives of millions of Americans. It’s an act that would’ve made Lyndon Johnson proud. President Obama (along with Vice President Biden and Michelle) was also the most inclusive and open administration in the history of this nation. He was the first president ever to publicly come out in favor of same-sex marriage, and just a few years later same-sex couples could marry across the entire land. It’s a day that I’ll never forget anytime soon.
We also had an administration that had more honest and open dialogues about race in America than ever before. Instead of hiding behind his race and ethnicity when he was attacked for it, President Obama embraced and was open to talking about it. While race relations have improved under the Obama administration, there’s still plenty of work to be done on the issue, and President Obama helped the country in guiding us to that place.
We were also incredibly spoiled by this administration because of how cool Barack Obama was. He was undeniably charming on a daily basis but he could be deadly serious and somber when needed to. I don’t remember crying harder during any political speech than in his speeches to the fallen in Charleston, South Carolina and the officers in Dallas, Texas (not to mention his beautiful final address to the nation a week ago as of writing this). He could help a grieving nation during countless tragedies in ways that I’ve never seen from any President before him.
There was also something incredibly special about his wife Michelle. Michelle Obama is probably the greatest First Lady that we’ve ever had, and this was because of how genuine she was. There was nothing fake about her, even in moments of holding the office when it would’ve been forgiven for her to fake her feelings toward something. Michelle Obama is a genuinely good human being, and her presence on the internet and on television for the last eight years has been a blessing.
The love between Barack and Michelle also felt genuine and real. Nothing ever felt forced or staged in any way. They loved each other just as much as they loved their country and their two children, Malia and Sasha. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had a family like this represent the country for the last eight years, and that might be the part that I’m going to miss the most about the Obama family. I like to think of Barack Obama as a father figure to not just myself, but hopefully millions of other young men in this country. As I get older, I’d like to be more like Barack Obama. Maybe not quite as a politician (although the political route will always be open for me) but as a husband, father, and man. If I can come close to having attributes similar to those of Barack Obama’s, then I will have lived a good and happy life.
This is nowhere near the best tribute to the outgoing President, but I wanted to put in my two cents about this great man before Friday. I’ve appreciated every minute that Barack Obama has been my president, and I wish him and his family nothing but the best in their life post-presidency. It’s in times like these that we need to be reminded of what a real man and a real leader is like, and you need to look no further than Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America. Thanks, Obama.