I was in seventh grade during President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008. I attended a small private middle school in Western Massachusetts, and the 200 students with all of the faculty sat on gray metal folding chairs, looking at the projected screen, the length of the wall as Obama took his oath of office. The faculty told us that we would never forget who we sat with, that it was history – the first black president.
Although I recognize that I was young at that time, I don’t remember CNN or MSNBC live streaming Obama’s nominee’s hearings, or mainstream media publishing front-page after front-page story detailing every action of his first month in office. Washington wasn’t “borderline chaos”, as Axios’s “Axios AM” Newsletter on Feb 15, 2017, quoted a top source.
In his first 20 days, President Trump has signed orders to relieve those who are suffering from ObamaCare, to withdraw the US from the TPP, to reinstate the ban on the use of US funds to provide abortions in other countries, to construct a wall between the US and Mexico, to cut off funding for sanctuary cities, to institute a federal hiring freeze, to hire more border security agents, to impose a 120 day suspension on refugees and a 90 day suspension on travel from seven countries, to reconstruct the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council, to instruct agencies to abolish two regulations when they create a new one, to ban previous federal employees from becoming lobbyists for 5 years and a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign country, and to create DOJ task forces to fight against crime and cartels. In addition, he has nominated a Supreme Court justice and seen to it that his contentious cabinet nominations passed in the Senate.
The takeaway for me (besides feelings based on my political opinions) is that we all know Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Betsy DeVos, Tom Price, Andrew Puzder, Scott Pruitt, James Mattis, Ben Carson, Elaine Chao, Steve Mnuchin, Nikki Haley, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon, Mike Pompeo, and Michael Flynn. Almost 5 million people marched across the world on the day after Trump’s inauguration. Now, we must continue to remain an informed electorate, fighting for what we believe in: calling our senators to support or vote against the bills that come their way, sending in Planned Parenthood donations in Vice President Mike Pence’s name, marching in the March for Life, or donating to the ACLU to fund lawyers for the people affected by the travel ban.
The 2016 election was the first that I voted in and the first that I truly paid attention to with all of its ‘echo chambers’, ‘fake news’, ‘morality’, and emotions. I’ll remember all of the coverage leading up to Election Day and the day itself: waking up in the morning in Florence, watching Trump’s acceptance speech and coming back to my room after a day of classes to watch a live stream of CBS of Clinton’s concession speech. This election was the first that lured me into politics. Now I find myself reading up on cabinet secretary nominees and executive order protocol, tuning into live press conferences and asking friends how they feel about the Secretary of Education or the withdrawal of the Labor Secretary nominee.
All of my friends have an answer or quickly ask for the facts. My generation will remember Jan. 20, 2017, and who we were with when we watched Donald Trump’s inauguration, along with who we were with when the votes were tallied on the evening of Nov. 8, 2016.
Hopefully, we’ll remember the conversations had and the repeated calls of a “peaceful transfer of power” from President Obama. Parts of Obama’s legacy are his failed backing of Hillary Clinton and his reassurances to those who were emotional after her loss. It’s hard to not compare Obama to Trump, since they came one after another, and despite the changes that the country has gone through since Obama was elected in 2008, I do not think it does any harm.
I will remember when I watched Obama’s inauguration, because of the years that followed. As I said before, I was not very involved in politics, so I’ll remember Obama for his human side: his speeches, his love for his family and basketball, the pictures of him on Halloween at the White House, and his relationship with his Vice President culminating with Obama awarding Biden with the Medal of Freedom.
I now expect that level of respect and kindness from my president. I know that the United States is made up of 350 million people, and of course, my political opinions may not be heard above many others and therefore the policies and laws of our country may not always be enacted as I would like. However, it does not take much to be a good human being. That is an attribute that appeals to all people.
As we continue to watch the goings-on in the White House over the next four years, I hope that we do not forget the level of respect and kindness that Obama brought to his job. Even if our country is moving forward and even if it is not, we should still hold our president accountable for his character as much as his actions in office. Thank you, Obama, for teaching me that.
This article was written by Allison Chesky. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: NBC News