The book titled “Change We Can Believe In” talks about Obama’s major campaign promises (2008) and specifically how he is going to carry them out. The campaign promises were mostly related to the economy, America’s leadership, and American values. I will compare these campaign promises to Donald Trump (the incumbent US president)’s campaign promises.
First of all, let’s talk economy. President Obama wanted to provide economic security and opportunity for all American families according to the chapter 2 in the book. It is stated in the book saying, “Right now, instead of a tax code that helps create an opportunity for all, we have a tax code that is open to the highest bidder, riddled with loopholes, and gamed to help the wealthy and well connected.” (Obama, 35) showing why Obama wants to provide economic security and opportunity for all American families. To let this happen, Obama planned different strategies such as giving every working family a $1000 tax cut, eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000, ease the burden of high gas prices and make oil companies share in the sacrifice, etc. Obama’s economic policies also include affordable healthcare for all Americans, which was actually carried out during Obama’s terms.
On the other hand, Trump’s economic policies are totally different from Obamas. They were focused mostly on the government and the country as a whole, not specifically to the citizens. First, he wanted to repeal and replace Obama’s affordable healthcare, also known as Obamacare. Also, Trump wanted “smart trade, not stupid trade”. He started renegotiating multiple Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) to promote protectionism that would not work. As you can see from these examples of Trump’s economic policies, it is mostly going against what Obama wanted to do and has done during his term, and some policies are said to “not work” according to eminent economists on these subjects.
Second of all, let’s talk America’s leadership. Obama wanted America to end the issues and conflicts going on in the world responsibly, such as the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism. It is stated in the book saying, “In a globalized world, the power to destroy can stem from asymmetric threats such as individual and terrorist groups with powerful weapons-not just states with armies.” (107) showing why Obama wants to turn the tide against global terrorism. He wanted to complete these tasks through means such as focusing on Afghanistan and Pakistan, redeploying American troops to Afghanistan, strengthening NATO’s hand in Afghanistan, and others. Obama’s leadership policies also include renewing global alliances to meet new global changes, which partially worked during Obama’s terms through meetings, treaties, and agreements.
Completely opposite from Obama’s ideas, Trump is breaking the longstanding American leadership. He has withdrawn from multiple key international agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Agreement with potential shifts from other agreements such as the vis-à-vis alliance with the European powers. These actions have created some potential areas political risk. Trump and his “America first” advisors highly likely took these actions because it is evident from the speech during a recent NATO summit that they believe the USA being a global leader is more of a burden than an advantage. From these actions made by Trump and his administration, it is evident that they are going on a completely different path than Obama’s in terms of American leadership.
Third and last of all, let’s talk American values. Obama wanted to restore trust in government and clean up Washington, it is stated: “In our democracy, the price of access and influence should be nothing more than your voice and your vote.” (147) to show why Obama wants to restore trust in government and clean up Washington. He wanted to fulfill his promise through means such as closing the “revolving door” between government and lobbying terms, banning gifts to executive branch employees, staffing the government based on talent, not political loyalties, and others. Obama also wanted to advance equal opportunity for all Americans, which was somewhat fulfilled by decreasing the gap between different races and genders.
In terms of American values, it is quite evident that Trump does not understand American values, even though it might seem like he does from his campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”. Some people even believe that Trump might be a threat to the values. We saw an example of this a few months back when Trump denounced NFL player Colin Kaepernick and others like him who have taken a knee during the national anthem to protest about racial inequalities in the USA. Trump declared at a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama, “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a ***** off the field right now, out, he’s fired!” It is pretty clear that Trump does not get why these players were taking a knee. They obviously weren’t trying to be disrespectful. It is because these players love their nation and want to live up to the values the nation was founded upon. Another quote: “It is not “freedom of the press” when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!” once again shows Trump has no idea about American values and human rights. From these specific comments made by Trump, it is clear that Trump does not know what American values are at all.
It is clearly a fact that Obama and Trump’s campaign promises and policies are facing different ways. In my personal opinion, even though one might think Trump’s policies on these three categories do not make sense at all, he definitely has some good policies in different ways. It is just a matter of what these people prioritize to be changed.
History proves that Obama kept most of his promises, especially in the American leadership and values categories. I’ve heard from lots of people beside me saying “Obama is a good president,” but I never knew specifically how Obama was a great president. This book gave me a deep understanding of why people keep on telling me that, and now I wholeheartedly agree with the ones who say Obama is a great president.