As President Obama completes his second term, the political pundits are debating if his time in office was transformative. In “Leadership by Peter Northouse,” the book established that a transformational leader must usher in dramatic change, through engaging, connecting, and motivating.
Based on the president’s most significant legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act meets the criteria for a transformative policy. President Obama succeeded where others failed for decades, and it would appear that more political experts would give him credit. Instead of working to improve the law, the Senate has passed a bill to repeal the ACA with the House, and when it reaches the president’s desk it will be vetoed.
The ACA was signed into law March 23, 2010, and it is the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. It was enacted to increase the quality and affordability of health insurance, and require insurance companies to cover all applicants regardless of pre-existing conditions. Without a doubt this legislation is transformational with over 15 million Americans signing up for health insurance, but the conservatives and Republicans are calling this law a failure.
The Republicans and conservatives conversations are insulting and dismissive, but they also say President Obama failed to transform anything in his seven years as president. Seth Mandel, columnist of The New York Post says, “Poor President Obama. All he wanted was to be a transformational figure. Instead he’ll be merely a transitional one. For all the talk about Obama’s grand ambitions to remake the country in his image, current events make it crystal clear his role as a placeholder.”
The thing that makes this kind of talk so incendiary is that the writers actually believe what they are writing. With the signing of the ACA President Obama made healthcare a right, and not a privilege. This was a landmark decision, for a black man with a middle name Hussein, and gets elected twice as the most powerful person on the planet, it was without question transformational.
But, the Republicans and conservatives would try to make Americans think that all the president has done is take vacations and play golf. Many Americans have forgotten the condition of the country when the president was voted into office. The country was experiencing one of its worst recessions since the depression, and all the major industries were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Once President Obama was sworn into office, he signed a $789 billion stimulus plan, a U.S. auto industry rescue plan, a housing rescue plan, and a U.S. financial and banking plan. These transformational plans put the economy on a track for success.
The unemployment rate is now 5 percent with 11 million new jobs created, and there has been 60 months of positive job growth. Somehow the Republicans never talk about the president’s achievements with the economy; because they would be forced to address the truth.
The president has redefined the U.S. role in the world, where he has used diplomacy, as opposed to war. As a change agent, the president has instituted a new policy on Cuba, allowing Cuban families to return home to visit loved ones. Many pundits argue that President Obama’s foreign policy has been a failure, but Americans have been safe for seven years.
With 2016 being a presidential election year, it is easier to fabricate the story and make the president seem wrong with his decisions. But, there is a record of achievement, and of him leaving the country in better shape than when he received it.
In the last seven years the president has ushered in dramatic change, which is the essence of transformational leadership. But maybe there is another problem with our president, which happens to be the color of his skin, and this could be the reason many politicians see his seven years in office as a failure.
Roger Caldwell, a community activist, author, journalist, radio host and CEO of On Point Media Group, lives in Orlando. His book, The Inspiring Journey of a Stroke Survivor, details the story of his recovery from a massive stroke. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.