As President Obama completes his second term, the political pundits are debating if his time in office was transformative. In Leadership: Theory and Practice by Peter Northouse, the author established that a transformational leader must usher in dramatic change by engaging, connecting, and motivating.
The president’s most significant legislative accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) 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 United States Senate recently passed a bill to repeal the ACA that was originally passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, 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, a columnist of The New York Post writes: “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 successful track for success.
The unemployment rate is now five percent with 11 million new jobs created, and there has been more than 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 worked with the Cuban government to ease travel restrictions between the two countries allowing family members 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 some people can’t see past the color of his skin and this could be the reason that many politicians see his seven years in office as a failure.
(Roger Caldwell is the president/CEO of On Point Media Group, a marketing and public relations firm located in Orlando, Florida. He is a graduate of Howard University in political science. As a stroke survivor, author, and community journalist, his passion is national and statewide politics. Follow him at or leave comments at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.)