Growing up in the Obama Presidency


Addie Soyski, Staff Writer

Like many high schoolers, Barack Obama has been president for most of my life. Inclusion and high environmental standards were a staple of his presidency. His terms were also marked by healthcare and Wall Street reforms, a nuclear peace agreement with Iran, and the rescuing of the auto industry. His administration in turn, made a mark on me, creating an image of what it means to be a president that will stay with me forever. An image that the current president doesn’t live up to.

Obama was inaugurated  Jan. 20, 2009, when I had just turned 7. Leading up to the inauguration, I couldn’t differentiate between a Democrat and a Republican. I had to ask my mom if Obama was who we had wanted to win. I remember her response being yes, but she had liked a women (who I now know to be Hillary Clinton) more who had not made it all the way through. Despite my lack of political knowledge, I still knew more about Obama than I did the man who had been president for my entire life, George W. Bush. If could easily identify Obama in a picture or recite his slogan of “Yes we can”, but if you had asked me to describe Bush, I could have given you only a few measly facts.

Gradually, I learned about a few of the issues, all from a signed bill or executive order that made headlines. By watching him, I learned what a president is, what a president should believe. I didn’t fully realize that not everyone agreed with his policies, especially his stance on social issues, until much later. My “opinions” were guided by what he believed. If Obama thought something was right, I knew that must be right. If he thought it was wrong, it must be wrong. As a young child, I was a mindless follower, but as I got older, I began forming my own opinions as learned more about the world. These views lined up well with Obama’s, and I began to support him because I truly liked him, not just because he was the president. I was born into a Democratic home during the Bush administration, but I wasn’t truly a Democrat until the Obama administration.

I have no doubt that Obama was instrumental in my interest in politics. He created an atmosphere of safety for my beliefs and helped me not second guess myself. He taught me that one doesn’t need to come from an established political family to be a politician. His passion inspired me to to fight for the causes I find most important in the world. In all earnest,  Obama made me like politicians, and as a result I want to become a politician myself.

Trump’s presidency has made me appreciate the 44th president of the United States. When the presidential race started up in 2015, I watched the debates and followed the news, and although Donald Trump’s ideas frightened me. I thought of him as a joke, someone who could never get the Republican nomination, much less the presidency. I treasured Obama’s numbered days, but was never concerned, as I was expecting a Clinton presidency.

As election day drew closer, I began to grow more and more anxious. Obama grew more dear to me every day. When election day came, and I realized Clinton wasn’t going to be president, Obama became a bit of an idol: the last strand of elected opposition. It was my president trying to defy the impostor trying to replace him.

The one thing that’s stayed consistent throughout Trump’s campaign and presidency is fear. I’ve feared for my rights, the rights of others and the future of my country. Trump’s dancing views on women’s issues, along with his pick of Mike Pence, make me concerned that my rights as a woman could be taken away. His attitudes towards racial and religious minorities as well as the LGBTQA+ community makes me concerned for their rights and the state of American society as a whole. And of course, his incredible lack of political knowledge and decorum makes me fear that his executive orders will damage the U.S. economy and its relations with foreign governments. Obama’s presidency never instilled these fears in me. I never even considered that a president, someone my fellow citizens chose, could make me afraid. Trump is nothing like Obama, and will never seem a president to me. Obama will always be my president no matter who resides in the oval office.