President Obama’s been in the Oval Office for nearly 18 months. With the midterm elections rapidly approaching in November, we at BreakThru Radio decided to take a temperature check on how Obama’s supporters feel he has performed so far. We hopped a train to Union Square and asked nearly one hundred people–all of whom had voted for Obama in 2008–how they feel he has measured up since inauguration.
This was the State of the Union at the time this video was made:
Guantanamo Bay: Shortly after taking office, President Obama declared he would close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. He has yet to do so.
Oil Drilling: At the end of March, Obama opened 167 million acres of ocean to oil drilling in an attempt to reduce our dependence on oil imports.
Abstinence Education: Obama’s historic health care bill included $250 million for abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education programs, even though Congress’s own study in 2007 proved that the programs were ineffective at preventing teenagers from having sex.
Iraq and Afghanistan: In early December of 2009, Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. This decision is the first phase of a twelve-point plan for gradual withdrawal from the war; the plan also includes an initiation of troops’ return home in July 2011.
The Economy/Unemployment: This past fall, the percentage of Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months was at its highest level since the government began keeping this statistic in 1948. The week before this video was made, unemployment in the US stood at just under 10% of the workforce, according to data from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Health Care Bill: On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed a major health care reform bill, which will serve as the first step toward a larger overhaul of the U.S. health care system. As part of a bill that fulfills his initial promise to provide health insurance to all Americans, the policies also put new legislative mandates into effect for insurance companies, health care providers and American citizens seeking health care. These mandates, along with the economic ramifications of the bill, have been met with a wide range of responses from the public and party officials alike.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: DADT is an amendment to an earlier Defense Directive issued by President Clinton in late 1993; the initial policy stated an absolute ban on openly gay or bisexual citizens serving in or joining the armed forces. The amendment essentially prohibits full disclosure of sexual preference, allowing those who are gay or bisexual to serve under the condition of secrecy. During his campaign President Obama spoke strongly about repealing the policy, but subsequent action has been delayed.
The Israel/Palestine Conflict: In a departure from former administrations, President Obama has expressed support for an independent Palestinian State. Obama has urged Israel to stop the construction of settlements on the West Bank, and urged Palestinian militants to cease their attacks on Israel. He has had small success with both measures.
Nuclear Arms: In early April of 2010, the Obama administration released a new policy restricting the use of nuclear arms by the U.S., as well as eliminating thousands of warheads from U.S. holdings. The Nuclear Posture Review amended previously defensive U.S. policy with the hope of leading other nuclear nations by setting a more peace-centered example.
Lack of Conservative/Republican Support: On much of his strongest reformative actions, Obama has repeatedly received little to no support from right wing representatives, who instead have offered open and frequently vocal disapproval. Among other examples, the recent health care reform bill passed the House vote only by a very narrow margin with every Republican member voting no. Both Democratic and Republican officials have voiced concern that this degree of antagonism is ultimately creating unproductive animosity and slowing positive action and forward movement for both sides.
A big thanks to all who participated in our impromptu survey and took the time to share their thoughts and insights! We at BTR definitely learned a lot from hearing this diversity of perspectives, and hope that our conversations might inspire you to start some of your own.
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– Britt Sondreal and Hunter Stuart