By KECIAH BAILEY
At the National Action Network’s 25th anniversary convention on Thursday, former senior adviser to President Barak Obama, David Axelrod, and Rev. Al Sharpton discussed the future of the Obama legacy before a mostly African American audience.
Both men have been long time supporters of President Obama. Sharpton, Obama’s longtime ally on race relations, coined himself a friend of the president at the convention while Axelrod has served as chief strategist for both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and as senior his adviser from 2009 – 2011.
“For the first time in American history you will see a white president succeeding a black president – but this is deeper than race,” Sharpton said. “This is about where they will drive the ship of the state.
“Will they turn it back on the track of Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton and Bush Jr. or will they continue on the track that Obama has given us? That is what is at stake.” Sharpton continued.
In response Axelrod said, “Because Obama has been such a consequential president, the election following him is consequential and it’s a matter of whether the things he has done and the progress he has made will continue or will it be rolled back.”
Axelrod highlighted the Affordable Care Act as one of Obama’s most significant achievements, one that be says millions of Americans cannot afford to be without. He reflected back to a time when as a young reporter, his daughter’s medical condition left him with thousands of dollars in medical bills and not enough insurance to cover them.
“In March 2010 when the bill was finally passed I sobbed because I knew other families would not have to go through what my family had gone through,” he recalled.
Axelrod said because of Obama’s determination, 20 million Americans now have medical insurance, many of them African Americans, and there are health clinics everywhere now serving people who probably would not be alive today.
“If there is a Republican president, there will be a Republican congress and a real effort to unwind everything that has been done over the last eight years,” Axelrod said.
He expressed concern that the two key republican candidates, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, would most certainly overturn Obama’s efforts.
“We know that Cruz has been the most determined opponent of the president’s policies in the Senate” he noted. “It was Cruz who led the government shutdown at the start of Obamacare in 2013.
Axelrod said it was hard to predict what a Trump presidency would look like. However, throughout Trump’s campaign he has been very adamant about immediately repealing Obamacare as soon as he takes office if he wins the presidency.
“It’s really Obama’s legacy that’s on the ballot,” Axelrod said.