Barack Obama – The ”New American” President

Its official. Barack Hussein Obama II is the President-elect of the United States of America. He made history (or has broken it) by becoming the first black to be elected US president, defeating Republican McCain. Obama won at least 338 Electoral College votes, far more than the 270 he needed.

Obama was born (August 4, 1961) at a time when African Americans were still battling segregationist policies in the South and his dramatic rise could help the United States bury its long history of racial tensions. Raucous street celebrations erupted across the country. Barack Obama rode a wave of voter discontent to a historic White House victory on Tuesday, promising change as the first Black US President but constrained by a deep economic crisis and two lingering wars.

Barack Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first African American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review. Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.

Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After a primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70 percent of the vote. As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds.

He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration”s policies on Iraq. On October 2, 2002, the day President George W. Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War, Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza, speaking out against the war. On March 16, 2003, the day President Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd that “it’s not too late” to stop the war.

Obama stated that if elected he would enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars, stop investing in “unproven” missile defense systems, not “weaponize” space, “slow development of Future Combat Systems,” and work towards eliminating all nuclear weapons. Obama favors ending development of new nuclear weapons, reducing the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, enacting a global ban on production of fissile material, and seeking negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status.

In November 2006, Obama called for a “phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq” and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran. In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although he did not rule out military action. Obama has indicated that he would engage in “direct presidential diplomacy” with Iran without preconditions.

Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said “it was a terrible mistake to fail to act” against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan”s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government.

In a December 2005, Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran. In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying “we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission,” he called on Americans to “lead the world, by deed and by example.”

In economic affairs, in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and opposed Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor.

Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama said he supports universal healthcare in the United States. Obama proposes to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process. In September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code. His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut, close corporate tax loopholes, lift the income cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS.

Announcing his presidential campaign”s energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a ten year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil. Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs.

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