Promises to keep
US President Barack Obama promised the American people change. Three years into his presidency, is his ‘yes we can’ election pledge still realistic? Anders Pedersen reviews a book that seeks to find the answer.
Change we can believe in. These were the words that framed Barack Obama’s presidential campaign of 2008.
In return for the peoples vote he pledged to make changes to the economy and improve things like health care.
At the time Obama took office, the American economy was in crisis enduring a recession that almost resembled the historic depression of the 1930’s. The unemployment rate was exploding, businesses were closing and several major banks were on the brink of collapse.
For policy such as healthcare, Obama entered a political mine field. Not only did the Republican Party believe his proposed reforms were the worst ideas in modern history, but within the Democratic Party there were also differences of opinion as to what health care reform should look like.
The question: Did Obama keep his promises? Could the American people actually believe in the change they had voted for? And what action did Obama take to keep his promises?
These are the questions that Jonathan Alter covers in his latest book The Promise, focusing on Barack Obama’s first year as president. The book gives a clear and balanced picture of the steps taken by Obama to keep his promises to the American people.
The book tells the story of the decision to boost the US economy through a $787 billion stimulus package along with the healthcare reforms that left the American people divided until March 2009. But most importantly, it tells the story about a new president, who was elected by the Americans with an expectation of hope to overcome a recession and policy reform.
What is interesting about this book is that it reflects on areas of politics most likely to be hotly debated during the upcoming 2012 election- the economy, unemployment and health care. The presidents view on these issues and the actions he has taken to fulfil his promises to the American people.
Although Obama says that change is an evolving process and that there is just as important work to do as president in his second and third year, it still doesn’t change the fact that his first year set the course for the rest of his presidency-or at least for the first term of his presidency.
Obama’s first term as president has been defined by how he has handled the economic crisis that America was, and still is facing. It is defined by what he has done to decrease unemployment and finally, it is defined by the fact that he managed to get health care reform passed.
These are the issues that Obama promised he would deliver to the American people. Whether they believe that he has done so in a fulfilling way, we’ll have to wait until November 2012.
The Promise (2010)
By Jonathan Alter