On February 24, 2009, Americans were looking ahead to how Barack Obama’s presidency would affect the country. But what do his supporters think now?
Obama’s 2009 speech — not officially a “State of the Union” — was his first address to a joint session of Congress, just over a month after taking office.
We followed up with iReporters who voted for Obama in 2008 to ask what they think now versus what they thought seven years ago.
The unemployed husband
David Kronmiller’s support of then-Sen. Obama didn’t waver throughout the 2008 campaign.
At the time, the Burbank, California, resident and his wife had just been laid off, and he was hoping for better days ahead.
In 2009, he said he noticed a “spring in the step” of Washington and thought the President delivered a terrific speech filled with promise and hope.
In a recent video, Kronmiller answered the oft-asked question, “Are you better off now?” with a resounding yes.
Years later, “we’re doing a lot better — not out of the woods … but we’re doing so much better,” he said.
The economy turned around for Kronmiller, which was what he wanted, though he admits Obama didn’t get all he wanted done.
Today, Kronmiller is a vocal supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential run, despite the fact that his rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton is selling herself as a continuation of the Obama presidency. Instead, he thinks Clinton would move the country to the right, pointing to her last bitterly fought campaign against Obama.
“Bernie Sanders has led throughout his entire 40+ career, getting arrested for protesting segregation, marching with MLK, standing up for gay rights on the floor of the House, opposing Clinton-era mandatory minimums and three strikes laws, voting against the Patriot Act and voting against the Iraq war,” he said.
“The Iraq war vote was a ‘hard choice’ for Hillary, but for Bernie it was an easy no. Something Bernie and Barack both agree on. That’s the type of leadership that will lift the country up.”
In 2008, Jason Dinant of Las Vegas wavered between Obama and Sen. John McCain, a politician he had admired for many years.
He made a special trip to New York City, asking people in Times Square whom he should vote for and was persuaded to vote for Obama.
After that first speech in 2009, Dinant was excited by what Obama might have to offer for the country.
Today, he’s proud of the vote he made.
“After two terms in office, clap it up. … Mr. Obama, you did an amazing job,” he said in a new video, citing the economy, health care and “helping equality spread across this country.”
However, despite a photo with Hillary Clinton that Dinant cites as an early example of a selfie, he is once again undecided, this time between Clinton and Sanders. He plans to decide soon, however, as he will be caucusing in Nevada.
The true believer
Longtime blogger Zennie Abraham of Oakland, California, was an early supporter of Obama, at the time calling his 2009 speech the best he had ever done, “replacing Reagan as the ‘Great Communicator.’ “
In a new video, Abraham — still a strong supporter — laid out in detail why he thinks Obama is one of the greatest presidents in American history.
He pointed to the President’s stimulus, saying it improved the economy, the Affordable Care Act, which Abraham said helped him personally, and the killing of Osama bin Laden as three big accomplishments.
He also pointed to Obama being the first African-American president as an accomplishment.
“He sent the message that the truly intelligent person looks for the right person whoever it may be (regardless of race, gender or orientation),” he added.
“He said to black kids especially: ‘You, too, can be president of the United States.’ “
Abraham also noted that Obama was “the first president of the social media age.”
The mother and political vlogger
Kingwood, Texas, resident Adriana Maxwell, who had just started vlogging her reactions to political stories in early 2009, called Obama’s speech an important one directed at Americans, with repercussions for the world.
One of her main concerns then was education, and on that issue, she thinks the President has done a good job, pointing especially to Common Core.
She also pointed to foreign policy: “We turned the corner with Cuba, but sort of turned the corner with Iran.”
But at the same time, she said it was “shaky,” in that there should have been “a more nuanced approach” to the Arab Spring.
“Pushing U.S. allies to move forward with their version of democracy would have gone a long way to improve the situation in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said.
Overall, she does not fault the President, who moved forward with executive orders and actions on immigration and guns, citing a Congress that he said would not act.
“I think he made it so that the next guy or gal to walk into office will have a better starting point,” she said.