Unfulfilled Hopes: President Obama’s Legacy
Stanley Renshon explores Obama as both a candidate and a president. Obama campaigned as a thoughtful pragmatist with populist overtones. The president said he wanted to move beyond the divisive politics of Washington. Yet, Obama also wanted to be a “great” and “transformational” president and modeled himself after those predecessors he thought had been. In doing so, he committed what Renshon characterizes as basic political faults—hiding his true ambition behind his moderate persona and campaign rhetoric. As a result, he allowed himself to contribute to the decades long decline in trust in government. The public wanted Obama to concentrate on the economy. Yet, he was focused on being a great, transformative president. The Democratic majority in Congress gave him a significant victory in the Affordable Care Act but his legislature successes slowed considerably when the Republicans took over the House and then the Senate. Accordingly, Obama then sought national transformation through the use of Executive Orders. These efforts are a cautionary tale of how personal ambitions, however necessary or benevolent they appear to a president, can be interpreted differently by the American people, especially if that was not what they voted for or wanted.