|Photo: Chip Somodevilla|
While the ACA may be both Obama's signature achievement and his achilles heel, there is no denying its boldness.
The President’s attack on the lobbyist-dominated monstrosity that is the American healthcare system showed enormous mettle. Regardless of what one thinks of Obamacare, it should be noted that no other president has been able to muster the know-how, the political muscle, and the intestinal fortitude to successfully pass legislation to overhaul our broken healthcare system.
Obamacare is not the only recent example of the President's willingness to take a stand and lead America forward.
Two weeks ago, in a statement delivered from the White House Rose Garden, the President declared the United States will no longer pursue deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children.
Conservative pundits questioned the President’s motives in making the election-year policy change, while Republican Congressional leaders had relatively little to say on the issue, partly in deference to Mitt Romney, who continues to take a nuanced non-position on the announced changes.
Why would the President take the politically risky step of allowing some illegal immigrant children to stay in the U.S.?
Because it’s the right thing to do.
When issues arise where justice has clearly not been served, good leaders step up, make the hard decisions, and find a way to make things right.
Despite the fact that President Obama already owned the lesbian and gay vote, and consequently had no real political advantage to gain, he publicly and historically declared his support for same-sex marriage – because it was the right thing to do.
Healthcare reform, immigration, and same-sex marriage are some of the more explosive hot-button issues the President has tackled, but they aren’t the only gutsy calls he’s been willing to make.
Consider his decision to invade Pakistani territory with an American military force under cover of darkness in order to kill Osama Bin Laden - the scenario was fraught with danger and potential liabilities. But, it was the right thing to do.
President Obama has proven himself to be unafraid of making tough calls, but if the first eight years of this millennium taught us anything about presidential leadership, it’s that just being decisive is not enough.
Great leaders must possess the vision, the intellect, the stamina, and the sheer guts to attack our most nightmarishly convoluted dilemmas, and they must be willing to address, with introspection and thoughtfulness, those seemingly irresolvable topics whose significance originates as much from moral obligation as it does from practical concern.
While ending the war in Iraq, clearing a path out of Afghanistan, and laboring to clean up an economic mess of historic magnitude, President Obama has also boldly addressed some of the most divisive and complex matters of our time. Encouraging open dialogue and forcing change on important issues of social justice is among the most noble of American political undertakings, and President Obama has served these traditions well.
Through his willingness to stir vigorous debate on the most provocative issues that echo through our collective conscience, President Obama has challenged us all. The question is, are Americans truly ready to rise to the challenge?
This is an updated version of a June 20th article published on examiner.com.