President Obama had to deal with Donald Trump during his presidency. Yet back then Trump was mostly just an annoying media presence, a loudmouthed conservative alleging Obama had forged his birth certificate. Trump didn’t enter the political race until this year, but the Obama administration is still being forced to deal with the ideas he’s been putting forth because they're actually affecting the country
At a recent Business Roundtable meeting in Washington, Obama addressed the attention that Trump has been receiving from both the media and voters. “There is nothing particularly patriotic or American about talking down America,” Obama said, according to The Hill. “Despite the perennial doom and gloom that I guess is inevitably part of a presidential campaign, America is great right now. America is winning right now.” Although Obama didn’t address Trump by name, it’s clear he’s speaking about the populist fervor the former real estate mogul has created.
Obama’s statements represent a rational response to the emptiness of the Trump slogan that looks good on hats but may not actually mean much. Obama believes his health care policy, deal with Iran and course of action in the Middle East is putting the nation in the right direction. It’s true — the country is much better off in many aspects since Obama took office. It’s not perfect, but talking about the country with the disastrous rhetoric candidates like Trump use might not be the healthiest option, either.
It is, however, a bit of exaggeration to say that “America is great right now.” Even with Obamacare, millions of Americans still lack health care. The war in Iraq has only grown more devastating. There’s racial tension bubbling to the surface in cities across the country. The economy has improved, slowly, yet income inequality still threatens to eradicate the American middle class. Not all of these issues can be attributed directly to Obama, but it’s inaccurate for him to claim the country is anywhere near “great” or “winning.”
The amount of support candidates like Trump and Bernie Sanders have received should be another indicator that Obama is incorrect in his assumption that the nation is still great. Obama also shouldn’t be so critical of the way Trump has attracted so much attention. Eight years might seem like a distant past, but Obama’s path to the White House was propelled by promises of hope and change. There’s little difference between a Shepard Fairey “Hope” poster and a “Make America Great Again” hat. Obama and Trump simply have different ideas as to how the nation could be bettered.
Especially during campaign season for a presidential election with two new candidates, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative aspects of the country. Candidates from both ends of the political spectrum present their ideas as to how to fix various issues, and voters respond accordingly. Obama won in 2008 because he recognized the problems the Bush administration had created and he promised to fix them. He hasn’t fully succeeded, but he has done his best to make the country better. Trump is now recognizing the problems the Obama administration has created and attempting to fix them as well. He might not have any serious policies to support his ideas yet, but it’s unfair to criticize him for wanting to try. That’s what democracy is all about. The fact that he’s received so much support shows that most Americans would have difficulty agreeing with Obama that the country is already “great” and “winning."
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