When you’re feeling down in 2017, look back at our 7 favorite things about President Barack Obama.
Do you remember where you were when President Barack Obama won the election in 2008? I was at an election night party at a friend’s apartment in Washington, D.C. When the results came down, the intimate gathering erupted into cheers of unbridled joy (which were so loud they sent the cat screameowing under the bed). We felt vindicated. We felt exuberant. We felt hope (well, all of us except the cat).
Eight years later, I’m still kvelling over our president for who he is and what he did for us — like doing more than any president in history to advance women’s health and rights.
As a staunch feminist, Planned Parenthood advocate, and overall Obama fan, here are my seven favorite moments from Obama’s eight years in office.
1. Standing with Planned Parenthood
The man said it best himself when he came to Planned Parenthood’s national conference:
... no matter how great the challenge, no matter how fierce the opposition, if there’s one thing the past few years have shown, it's that Planned Parenthood is not going anywhere.President Barack Obama (April 26, 2013)
Obama continued to stand up for Planned Parenthood throughout his presidency. Just last month, he finalized a breakthrough rule reinforcing that it’s illegal for states to block patients from getting preventive care at a health center just because its organization also provides safe, legal abortion. The rule protects health care for millions of patients, but the next administration could undo it.
2. This cameo on “Between Two Ferns”
Yeah, Obama accomplished a lot of important things. But I will really miss his spot-on sense of humor. That said, I’ve probably watched this episode five times. Such amazing timing. Such grace. Such deadpan!
3. That whole Affordable Care Act thing
Obama made history when he signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law, helping 22 million people gain health care coverage (many for the first time). More than fifty-five million women now have access to preventive care (like birth control and cancer screenings) without a copay.
What’s more, women are no longer charged more than men for health care coverage, and no longer denied coverage because of so-called “pre-existing conditions” like having had a C-section or being a survivor of domestic violence.
4. Being a badass feminist
Yes, THIS is what a feminist looks like. In an essay for Glamour, Obama not only self-identified as a feminist (which he did multiple times throughout his presidency) — he stood up for reproductive freedom:
I’ve witnessed how women have won the freedom to make your own choices about how you’ll live your lives — about your bodies, your educations, your careers, your finances… And while I’ll keep working on good policies — from equal pay for equal work to protecting reproductive rights — there are some changes that have nothing to do with passing new laws… We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure and our boys to be assertive, that criticizes our daughters for speaking out and our sons for shedding a tear. We need to keep changing the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality and rewards men for theirs… That’s what twenty-first-century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free.—President Barack Obama (August 4, 2016)
But it wasn’t just that one essay. He made a moving speech on gender equality at the White House’s first-ever Summit on the United State of Women. He’s also frequently shared how being a father and husband galvanized his resolve to combat sexism.
5. Taking action on equal pay
The very first bill that President Obama signed into law was 2009’s Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier for women to sue employers for equal pay. But it didn’t end there. Obama went on to sign an executive action to strengthen fair pay laws for employees of federal contractors. And just last month, he got over 100 companies to sign onto the White House’s equal pay pledge and commit to paying men and women fairly.
I’ll never forget how Obama hugged Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg each time he made his way to address the nation for the State of the Union. But it’s not just the notorious-RGB hugs. I loved seeing the natural affection that Obama has shared over the years with his family, constituents, babies and children — and, of course, Uncle Joe himself.
7. Working to end sexual assault
There’s so much more, but what stands out is Obama’s strong stance against sexual violence. He signed a bill establishing a Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act in October. It marks the first time in history that U.S. federal legislation used the term "sexual assault survivors,” and the first time that survivors could enforce their rights in federal court — like the right to have rape kits preserved and the right to get the results of their forensic exam. Obama also refused to visit schools that don't address reports of sexual violence.
President Obama: Thank you for your eight years of support for reproductive freedom!
When one of the most popular president ever leaves office, it’s easy to look into the
abyss next calendar year and feel despair. But whatever happens, nobody can take away the memories. It almost makes me feel like singing...
When the new administration bites,
When the rhetoric stings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things about Obama,
And then I don't feel... so bad!
Because, Barack: No matter what, we’ll always have this moment: