COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Hans von Spakovsky
Hans von Spakovsky is an authority on a wide range of issues—including civil rights, civil justice, the First Amendment, immigration, the rule of law and government reform—as a senior legal fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies and manager of the think tank’s Election Law Reform Initiative. Read his research.
Grant Strobl is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.
Americans voted in November for seismic change,
 but our outgoing president is still as clueless as
ever about the nation he governed.
In his farewell speech-cum-lecture earlier this month,
 President Barack Obama proclaimed that he made
 America better by “almost every measure.”
The statement goes far beyond optimism, and
 lands squarely in the realm of delusion.
Eight years of Obama’s leadership has left
America demonstrably weaker and more divided.
 Rather than the promised “healing”—racial
and other—the Obama era frayed the ties that
 bind us.


KEEP THE DAILY SIGNAL FREE
It began when his Justice Department dropped an
 open-and-shut voter intimidation case against the
New Black Panther Party. It was essentially a
declaration that his administration would use
the Voting Rights Act to protect only certain races.
There followed a steady stream of false claims
that America was an inherently racist society
with a biased judicial and law enforcement system.
 Obama rekindled a racial divide that had been
steadily disappearing in American society.
In fostering group identity politics for political
advantage, the Obama administration only
divided the American people. And the people
know it.
A recent Rasmussen poll found that 60 percent
of Americans felt “race relations have gotten
 worse since Obama’s election”—a far cry from
 the president’s claim of “better” race relations
 under his administration.
The president also boasted of controlling
 health care costs while bringing Americans
better insurance coverage. Neither claim is true.
This year, insurance premiums skyrocketed by
an average of 25 percent in states with exchanges.
 Deductibles are through the roof. And people
shopping for more affordable insurance are
finding far fewer options.
Most states this year have even fewer insurance
 providers participating in health care exchanges
 than last year.
As for “better coverage,” the vast majority of
 previously uninsured people now covered are
 enrolled in Medicaid—a troubled and increasingly
 stressed program that actually delivers poorer
 health outcomes than those of people with 
no insurance at all.
It’s no wonder that more Americans want to
repeal the consistently unpopular law than keep]
it, according to a recent Kaiser Health tracking poll.
The president proudly stated that he opened
 a “new chapter with the Cuban people,” but it
 appears the new chapter for the Cuban people
is one behind bars. Since Obama began
 “normalization,” arrests of Cuban political
 dissidents have escalated, with over 9,000
 political arrests made in 2016.
It is no secret that the tyrannical Castro regime
 has a dismal human rights record. The influx
 of American capital blessed by normalization
 will only bolster the regime.
It was a huge mistake to give Havana diplomatic
recognition with no conditions and no requirements
to stop the oppression. In Cuban-American
communities, the widespread celebrations of
Fidel Castro’s death stood in stark contrast to
the bitter disappointment in Obama’s failure to
 stand for freedom and liberty in Cuba.
Returning to domestic policy, the president
 ignored his real record: eight years of economic
 stagnation. Instead, he offered happy talk:
 “The good news is that today the economy is
 growing again.”
Really? Our economy continues to underperform,
 with low increases in gross domestic product, a
low labor participation rate, increased cost of
 living in cities, and lower-than-expected wage
 growth.
Rather than implement policies that encourage
 business creation and investment, the president
fostered an environment of class warfare and
instituted policies, including Obamacare and
overregulation in many other areas, which
 increased the barriers to entry for small
 businesses and entrepreneurs.
This no-regrets president remained unapologetic
 of his “pen and phone” approach to governance.
First expressed in 2014, it reflects his belief that
the limits of the Constitution on the power of the
 presidency do not apply to him.
Obama has engaged in more unilateral
policy-making through executive fiat than almost
any previous president—bending, changing,
 rewriting, and ignoring the law at will.
From refusing to enforce federal immigration
law or welfare work requirements, to ignoring
statutory deadlines, to making illegal recess
appointments, Obama abused his office and
his power. That is not something to be proud of.
In his typical lawyerly fashion, the president
skirted around the truth of cities riddled with
racial tension and soaring crime rates, small
businesses ruined by rising health care costs
and crushing regulations, a metastasizing
national debt, and a foreign policy that seems
 to favor authoritarian regimes over our allies.
Perhaps all the spin worked on the reporters
 attending Obama’s last speech. But the broad
swathes of the American people who have
suffered the consequences of his misgovernance
 for eight long years stopped buying it months,
if not years, ago.