It is inevitable that United States Presidents are compared not only to who served before them, but to those who came after them. If these past few weeks are any guide to the next four years – if Trump can avoid impeachment and conviction – then we can start making room for Barack Obama on Mount Rushmore.
It’s not just the sheer grace, intelligence, humanity, empathy, joy and focus that Obama brought to the office. It’s the way he conducted himself and the way he presented the image of the United States to visitors, other heads of state, and anyone else who still believed that this country can be, and must be, a force for good in the world.
Yes, there were times when I wanted President Obama to be full of righteous anger and to show it. To get a little sweaty under the collar. To yell a little more. To get carried away, But at the end of a speech or press conference, I would usually marvel at how he could make a point forcefully without resorting to histrionics or contrived media moments. And there were no scandals, personal or otherwise, and no need to follow the money or worry about a wiretap. He served as a president we could be proud to have lived under. Anyone who is turning 20 this year can honestly say that they lived their formative years under a president who was a political, moral, and family role model.
And compared to what’s next in our future, Obama will go down in history as one of the great ones. Perhaps he will be remembered as the last of the presidential presidents, who understood that the Commander-In-Chief and head of the Executive Branch had a responsibility to act like a role model and to be aware that others were watching him, and not just as someone commanding a media audience. He might also be remembered as the last president to actually have a plan as to how to run the country, rather than repealing first and worrying about what happens later. Or who used social media to further a positive agenda, not to denigrate, bully, lie, obfuscate or brag.
I will miss Barack Obama as President of the United States. He broke a major barrier and made this country greater. I hope that we can hold on to that greatness in the face of someone who doesn’t recognize that we are great, and have been great for a very long time.