Respect the POTUS

By Todd A. Smith

            You do not have to like it, but you have to respect it.

            That statement epitomizes the presidency of Barack Obama and his bid to win reelection in November.  His first run to the White House was bold and historic and some of the initiatives like the individual healthcare mandate and immigration reform have been just as bold.

            Nevertheless, the POTUS has not always received the same respect as his predecessors.  Whether it is because he is too dark or too liberal for some, his first term has been consumed with venom from those who oppose his historic presidency.

            Regardless of where one stands on the issues like the individual healthcare mandate, immigration or social issues, one has to respect how savvy and shrewd President Barack Obama is.

            While his first four years have been a bumpy ride at times, he is a genius in capturing attention and enthusiasm from his voter base when it counts the most. 

Although he cannot rest on the hope and change message of 2008, it seems he innately knows, regardless of the hand he is dealt, what cards to play at the right time.  When his campaign seems stuck in neutral he makes a decision, or others make a decision for him, that breathes new life into his reelection bid.

            Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that President Obama’s healthcare reform bill, including the individual healthcare mandate, was constitutional under the Tax Clause.  Throughout his journey to pass universal healthcare, the president argued the bill’s validity through the Commerce Clause.

            Many, and rightfully so, argued that the individual healthcare mandate was unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause because the government cannot force someone to buy a product. 

Although many may find it immoral or unethical, President Obama, an attorney and former constitutional law professor knew that selling Americans healthcare as a new tax would be an impossible sell.  Furthermore, selling the Supreme Court under the Commerce Clause would be impossible as well.

            The president decided instead to play both sides of the fence and was able to get the results he desired.  He will certainly face more criticism for playing both sides of the fence, but politicians have been doing so since the beginning of time, but seemingly with more respect from their peers and constituents.

            Personally, I still find it unsettling to tax someone for not paying for healthcare.  In my opinion, most people will pay for health insurance if they can afford it and it will be like pouring salt on an open wound for those who cannot afford it. 

However, I am for any effort that will make Americans, especially poorer Americans, healthier and allow them to potentially live a longer life.  And I am totally against the Republican sentiment that Obamcare is a terrible law.

            How can it be terrible to provide all Americans with affordable healthcare?

            On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a split decision in Arizona’s controversial immigration policy.  The high court said it is OK to demand proof of immigration status when someone is arrested for a crime, but held it was unconstitutional to make it a state crime for someone to seek work without the proper immigration documents.

            That ruling, coupled with President Obama’s new immigration policy that allows illegal immigrants who came to this country before the age of 16 to stay in America and apply for permits, provided they have spent five years in the country and meet other criteria has led to a jump in the polls for the president, especially among Latino voters.

            According to the Los Angeles Times, a new Quinnipiac University poll shows because of his stance on immigration, the president is now ahead of challenger Mitt Romney in Pennsylvania and Ohio and is neck-and-neck with the former Massachusetts governor in Florida.

            Regardless if you like the president’s policies or not, even staunch detractors have to respect his “gangsta.”  He knows what to do at the right time to appeal to his base and get them energized.

When others had a chance to work with the president on immigration reform, many in Congress dropped the ball, leaving the president with the majority of the credit in an election year.  When Republicans had a chance to get on board with healthcare reform, many played politics and blamed their opposition on the individual healthcare mandate.

This president may not have made the right decisions all of the time, but he knows when it is crucial to make a difficult decision and not play politics as usual.

            When many of his opponents are still trying to figure out if he was really born in America, President Obama is making moves that should benefit most, if not all Americans.  And whether you are a Democrat, Republican or Independent you have to give respect, when respect is due.

Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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