The GW College Democrats put a lot of effort into electing President Barack Obama, and our work has paid off. We believed in Barack Obama because we thought he’d be able to enact change on a variety of issues that affect our lives – from health care to the environment, as well as issues that impact our image in the world, including Iraq and Guatánamo Bay. President Obama has made great strides in the direction of this change, despite enormous challenges.
The collapse of the financial sector devastated our economy and hurt the lives of millions of Americans. Immediately upon taking office, the president and the Democrat-majority Congress enacted the Recovery Act that has created or saved two million jobs and added between 1.5 percent and 3 percent to the GDP during the last quarter of 2009 alone. Millions of Americans are still feeling the pain of this deep recession, but due to the Recovery Act and other economic policies of President Obama and others, economic indicators suggest the economy is beginning to grow. One important economic indicator, unemployment, has not seen a drastic improvement yet, although without the Recovery Act it is likely that unemployment would have topped 15 percent – far worse than the current 10 percent. Graduating seniors such as myself ought to be delighted that economists predict the job market will be much improved by the time we enter the work force this summer.
Another of President Obama’s first initiatives was commencing the closure of the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, which had been a dark stain on our worldwide reputation. Two days into office, he signed an executive order to close the site. The process is well under way with the selection of a prison in Illinois where criminal trials can commence.
The president has also begun to remove our troops from Iraq as conditions on the ground finally seem to be improving. December was the first month since the war began with no combat deaths. Hundreds of thousands of Americans our age have risked their lives in a folly of the previous president, and more than 4,000 have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Now with all American soldiers out of Iraqi cities, we’re on track to only having a small residual force in the country by the end of the summer.
These aren’t the only presidential accomplishments: Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court, strengthened credit card consumer protections, reformed military procurement, and was even more effective at cutting spending than the previous president.
Looking toward the year ahead, the CDs are excited to see even more progress on a variety of issues from Congress and the president. We expect health care reform to pass early this year. This reform will expand coverage to tens of millions of Americans who cannot afford it now, and will allow students to stay on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26 – an important step for the youth generation. We will see legislation pass that will reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases causing global warming, a disturbing trend that will have a dramatic impact on our generation.
As an organization, we will be out campaigning for Democratic candidates nationwide to maintain and grow our Democratic majority in Congress in the November elections so the president continues to have a working majority to work with. We will continue to disseminate information about issues that are important to our generation in order to make sure the change the president promised is attainable.
President Obama has had a difficult year filled with obstacles beyond those that most presidents must face, yet he has met these challenges head on – in the process creating the basis for a better American life. In the year ahead, he will need all the help we can give him to ensure that our nation can grow and prosper.
The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is the GW College Democrats communications director.
Readers can visit the Forum to comment on this op-ed.