Obama's farewell speech on January 10 hit all the right notes. It's beyond dispute that he is an orator par excellence. He spoke of grand ideas like citizenship, defending democracy, and organizing. His 2 terms were far from perfect - I can't forget inaction in Syria, family (read: child) detention, and drone killings.
But I called it out when I saw it. I took action when I could. I tried hard not to fall into hero worship, publicly calling him out on thin red lines, and especially on his administration's cruel deportation policies. Calling out people you generally respect is hard enough, but it's even more difficult in an extremely polarized environment where any criticism of one side is seen as tacit endorsement of the other. Not to mention my distaste for the upcoming administration. Mistakes were made, and people suffered and even died as a result.
Many of my colleagues at the immigration bar, in response to my original thoughts I penned right after watching the speech, reminded me of the evils of family detention, while others wrote about Obama's inaction and unpreparedness for the rigors of the job of President. ,
Despite all this, I never doubted Obama's sincerity of belief in a greater good, regardless of achievement or lack thereof.
For that reason, it's hard not to give him a pass for some of his failures. It's hard not to see his work in the system he operated in. No one man should be able to effectuate huge change in only 8 years. If he can, perhaps the institution isn't much of an institution. There can and should be opposition - on the merits, of course, not for opposition's sake.
But a good leader should leave office with a country that's better off overall, and with a vision of a clear path forward. It's easy to blame the president for mishaps along the way- that's kind of what he's there for.
After the farewell speech, I do believe we're better off than 8 years ago. I've seen more examples of engagement, civic responsibility, and growth (family and business). I've seen crime rates fall, and people start spending again. I've seen institutions built and knowledge shared. I want that to continue.
I like my bubble. It's a nice bubble with lots of amazing people, though I know there are other nice bubbles out there. But now I've got something to continue to nurture, grow, and if necessary, defend.
I'm under no illusions about the upcoming administration. I hope to be proven wrong, but Trump is not a sincere person. I won't be giving him passes like Obama. I'm holding his team's feet to the fire until I'm sure that he no longer poses a threat to the inclusive America that is no quixotic fantasy.