In this series, ELGL members reflect on how their life has changed from 2008 to 2016, and look forward to where they’ll be in 2024. ELGL members can sign up to share their experiences at My Life in Presidential Terms.
By Erik Clarke – ELGL Profile, LinkedIn and Twitter
In 2008, I was a high school sophomore concerned about high school concerns and figuring out myself and the world around me. I remember sitting with my biology teacher in a high school classroom watching then-Senator Barack Obama sworn in as our nation’s 44th president.
Through Barack Obama’s first term in office, I went from gangly, awkward high school kid to capable young adult and college student. My college experience, like the experiences of many others, was hugely impactful and helped shape the adult I would become.
Barack Obama’s second term has been a great growth experience, as well. During President Obama’s second term, I graduated from college, lived and worked in Washington DC, met my partner, began my post-college professional career, and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the Ohio State University.
If I ran into my 2008-self and told him that he’ll have his life this much together in 2016, I wouldn’t believe myself.
While my “Obama years” were spent during a transitional period of life, I believe our country has also went through a transition of sorts. Eight years ago we were on the brink of a global recession. Our country was hit by a housing crisis, a banking crisis, the American automotive industry was near collapse, and we were suffering from a crisis of faith in our country. There is no doubt that the ship has been righted nearly eight years later. There is no doubt that the economic bleeding has stopped and the wound has been cauterized, but there is also little doubt that a lot of work is left to do to set sail in the right direction and continue to heal the economic wound that afflicted us.
Whether you agree with the president or disagree with his decision-making and policy goals, nobody can deny that this has been a transformational eight years. The economy is back on track, the affordable care act has impacted virtually every industry, America has taken up a leadership role on climate change, our relationship with Cuba has changed, marriage equality has become the law of the land, and our nation has confronted a litany of national challenges.
These past eight years have been a big deal for myself, personally, and our country. The next president will inherit a country on the rebound and their decisions will either help chart a path towards prosperity or turn back progress. Every four years, we hear the Republican nominee for president and the Democratic nominee for president boldly state that this is the most important election of our lifetime. This time, I may be inclined to agree. Either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, two people with differing viewpoints and demeanor, will lead our country for the next four to eight years.
And as I get older, I want to, increasingly, be a part of the conversations which help guide my community, my state, and our country onto a better, more reasonable, and more prosperous path forward. Only time will tell what is in store for me and what is in store for our country and the communities we serve.
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