Former President Barack Obama’s Chicago roots were not enough to promote a holiday honoring the former president. Democratic Rep. Andre Thapedi promoted the idea of the holiday, but soon received several emails from people who found the idea totally abhorrent.
“We’re digging a grave especially for you,” one ominous email warned.
Thapedi stated to the media: “It has been a hodge-podge of responses, from one end of the spectrum to the other: joy, jubilation on one side; absolute, unadulterated venom on the other side.”
Whether or not someone believes Obama made positive contributions to this country, it’s impossible to be oblivious to the sharp divide in American politics after his second term. From being the first black president to openly espousing the most liberal social views than any prior president, his legacy had staggering effects on American culture.
Several states have attempted to honor Obama in various ways; in New Jersey, the public school board in Jersey City named a public school after him, however, the school board had several heated meetings prior to the agreement. In California, a senator suggested naming a section of the Ventura Freeway, “President Barack H. Obama Freeway.” It is unclear what the status of that legislation is at present.
It is equally difficult to insult unpopular presidents through naming institutions. In 2008, legislation was presented on the state ballot to name San Francisco’s sewage plant after George W. Bush. The proposition failed, despite the fact that Bush was deeply unpopular in the Bay Area.
The reason for the difficulty to pass legislation naming institutions after recent presidents is that it is “too soon.”
Harmeet Dhillon, an attorney from San Francisco, remarked: “I don’t have any principle objections to naming the institutions” after Obama, but “I believe that privilege should really be reserved for people who have passed away,” Dhillon said. “I would take the same view on naming things after the Bush presidents, or after Clinton. [It is] contrary to our concept of citizen-servants.”