The opinion polls put Barack Obama as the least popular President in his first year since Eisenhower. Could it be that the corporate buy-out of American political institutions – poison from the interests of the oil industry, private healthcare firms and any other evil lobby that left-wingers could care to blame – has ensured that the sweeping change that Obama promised has been corrupted and prevented? In fact Obama has made a solid start and the best is yet to come.

The argument might go as follows: if Barack Obama couldn’t bring about radical change required to tackle the US’s healthcare, oil addiction and financial crisis, we might as well give up on national politics. A community organiser, who campaigned against vested interests, a idealist with a unique ability to inspire all sections of the electorate thanks to an upbringing that was black and white, privileged and everyday, American and foreign, religious and open-minded, and a politician with a talent for oratory unparelleled in living memory. If Obama couldn’t, who can? But what can even he do in a system held hostile to entrenched lobbying interests and a public unwilling to see round corporate lies. In a much-repeated 2001 poll, a majority of Americans believed that 15 to 20 percent of government expenditure went on foreign aid. When the survey was carried out it was close to 0.3 per cent. The number of Americans who believe that human activity is causing global warming is just 36 per cent. And most recently a poll showed that 55% of Americans believed the false claim that Obama’s healthcare proposals would cover illegal immigrants. 72% of Fox News viewers believed the same falsehood.

However, optimism should be salvaged from the fact that Obama has faced the toughest concoction of problems to face a leader. Lets glance over four; a financial crisis, healthcare provision, a tarnished image of America across the world and an unhealthy addiction to oil. Obama has, albeit not single-handedly, prevented a depression and looks set to realter the financial landscape for the better by committing to serious financial regulation. At least a fragile recovery, much dependent on real estate stabilisation, hasn’t prevented a serious attempt to tackle the root cause of the problem (inadequate regulation of financial sector). Great strides have been taken towards the universal provision of healthcare to all Americans, despite recent setback delivered in Massachusetts. Obama’s greatest assets in foreign policy, (relatively) principled respect for human rights and an ability to reach out to opposing forces and use a conciliatory approach to extract concessions in negotiations where they have previously not been able to take place, have no doubt helped to restore America’s image abroad. Given that human rights aren’t an issue in the field of climate change, and negotiations have been occurring since the early 1990s, Obama’s assets have not much alleviated the problem of an absence of a global carbon agreement – vital for solving America’s unhealthy addiction to dirty fuels.

His achievements so far are great, given the multitude of immensely difficult tasks that have been thrust upon him in his first year. The Obama project is still in play and up for grabs, and cynicism should be banished.

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