Can the U.S. uphold Obama’s legacy?


Can the U.S. uphold Obama’s legacy?

By Managing Editor

As President Barack Obama’s final term sadly comes to a close, he is starting to make final speeches to prominent groups he has been involved in. 

He gave his final address to the United Nations’ General Assembly Sept. 20., less than two months before either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be elected to replace him. 

The first time Obama addressed the General Assembly was nine months after he took office on Sept. 23, 2009. 

In his first speech addressing the group, he was setting the stage for his presidency and proving to the U.N. his presidency would be different. He was starting to redefine the U.S. and its reputation, as well as re-involve his country in the U.N. and international communities. 

He talked about what the U.S. did during former President George W. Bush’s terms and what he wanted to do with this country’s involvement internationally moving forward. 

The eight years preceding that speech were spent intervening in countries the U.S. arguably did not belong in, rejecting goals of the international community, avoiding the dangers of global warming and many other disastrous actions.  

In Obama’s first nine months in office, the U.S. joined the Human Rights Council, signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and fully committed to the Millennium Development Goals, which Bush had rejected. 

The eight years after that first speech were spent working toward  cooperation.

While people may criticize Obama’s presidency, he has at least begun to rebuild the image of the U.S. in the international community, even with extreme pushback. The country has come a long way from the severely tarnished reputation it had when he took office. 

At the close of Obama’s first speech, he said the U.S. was at a pivotal moment in international cooperation. Now, the U.S. finds itself again at a pivotal moment in the international community. 

“We can choose to press forward with a better model of cooperation and integration,” Obama said in his final speech. “Or we can retreat into a world sharply divided, and ultimately in conflict, along with age-old lines of nation.”

Obama was not just critical of America’s sometimes misguided role in the international community but also of the actions and participation of all countries involved in the U.N. 

He said in order to maintain stability, countries should reject strong-man politics and the divisions within and between countries.

While the effectiveness of the U.N. as it stands today is debatable, there is no doubt that the reputation of every country in that body is extremely important. The reputation of the U.S. is something the next president should maintain and treat with care. 

It is very easy to reject the rest of the world out of fear and ignorance, but Obama proved how difficult it is to pull a country out of that. 

“The gains are often fragile,” he said. “Sometimes we take one step forward and two steps back.” 

Obama has undoubtedly taken this country a step forward. Despite challenges, he has attempted to keep the U.S. on course; however, now the U.S. is precariously close to taking two huge steps backward. 

After Obama’s presidency and this speech, America should be ashamed Trump is being considered as a replacement for someone who has spent his two terms in office building relationships-—not walls—between the US and other countries.