Study Guide

Barack Obama in A More Perfect Union

By Barack Obama

Barack Obama

In the United States, the voter demographic most likely not to turn up on Election Day is comprised of individuals between the ages of 18 and 31. Which is pretty interesting because those people have the biggest beef with the government—and rightfully so. Today, young people are dealing with the effects of climate change and redonkulous prices for higher education that leave them saddled with debt and eating ramen for the rest of forever—plus the two wars and further conflicts in the Middle East that we somehow have to pay for.

Thanks, past generations.

Those reasons, along with many others, make it sort of obvious why young people seemed to have little faith in the people in charge. However, a lot of that changed in 2008. Barack Obama was an interesting dude in that he appealed to a number of different demographics and inspired a bunch of people to cast their votes that may have, in the past, not even bothered.

Obama represented a new type of leader—one that was young, passionate, and charismatic. And he wasn't afraid to let the American people know that he, too, had moments of being infuriated by the government.

From the moment he announced his candidacy in early 2008, Barack Obama acknowledged that our country was the only one in the world where he, a man with a white mother and a Black father, could become commander in chief and the leader of the free world. But he also acknowledged that our country was imperfect in a number of ways, and it made him angry enough to want to do something about it.

Voters of all shapes and sizes related to a guy who seemed to really understand where they were coming from and an orator whose words made them believe they too had a voice.

His likability (and dance moves) gave him the chance to accomplish a lot of things during his presidency. For better or worse (we'll leave that to you), U.S. military forces left Iraq in 2011 and Afghanistan in 2014. In the first days of May 2011, Navy SEALs raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden. (Source)

Obama also made a nuclear deal with Iran, reopened the U.S. embassy in Cuba, and became the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima since the atomic bomb decimated the city in 1945. (Source)

On the home front, his Affordable Care Act legislation gave more Americans access to health care, although not everyone was thrilled with the plan. He also created more jobs, which boosted the economy. And, under his administration, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage.

That said, there have been a lot of issues with gun control and gun violence under Obama, and his legislation to address the problem hasn't been well received. Plus, racial conflicts in places like Baltimore and recent laws concerning race and discrimination at the state level (see "Timeline" for more information) prove that his initial campaign goal to unify Americans and chip away at racist ideologies hasn't been entirely successful.

But then again, Obama's approval rating was at an all-time high leading into the 2016 presidential election. And that's not bad after eight years of hard work. (Source)