Chicagoans mark election anniversary

November 3, 2009 3:21:40 PM PST
One year ago on Wednesday, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States.Chicago and a nation reflect on his job performance one year after a historic night.

President Obama has faced several difficult issues, including the recession wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and health care reform.

One issue Obama has not tackled in his administration is immigration reform and tonight many advocates are disappointed that one year after his election nothing on the immigration front has changed.

Election night, 2008 was such a profound moment in American history that it seems Barack Obama's term actually began nearly three months before his inauguration.

During the past nine months, immigration reform has taken a back seat to the economy, healthcare reform and the intensifying war in Afghanistan.

"We've got a year, just one year since he gave that speech and we were thinking about all the things that he's done that people claim he hasn't done but it's one year," said Sue McNerney.

Sue McNerney and her husband Jan Sobierski strolled through Hutchinson Field on Tuesday afternoon remembering the scene there one year ago tonight. The world was watching as Barack Obama declared victory in the 2008 presidential election and promised to change America for the better.

A year later, McNerney remembers the hope she felt that night.

"Thank God we have a new administration coming in and we have someone like Obama coming in who looking forward and not backward and not insulating us more," said McNerney.

Hundreds of progressive activists, many of whom were on Hutchinson Field one year ago tonight, rallied at the Spertus Center a few blocks away on Michigan Avenue.

"We need to continue to celebrate that victory today one year later. Because that's the people's victory," said Juan Salgado, immigration reform activist.

But immigration reform activists quietly worry that the president has not acted quickly enough on the issue most important to them.

"Everyone is focused on the economy and health care right now, but we believe that the president will call it in the next couple of months," said Lawrence Benito, immigration reform activist.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson told the audience that Obama's election was only the first step toward change.

"Unless you act to create the climate, the president cannot act unilaterally," said Jackson.

Back at Hutchinson Field, Jan Sobierski says the media has paid too much attention to Obama's critics.

"I think they are focusing on the opposition, on negativity and there is a lot of things happening behind the scenes in the infrastructure of the government," said Sobierski.

Progressive activists predicted today that the Obama administration will have completed health care reform by the end of the year. They expect the next issue to be undertaken by the president is immigration reform. But that could be a problem during 2010, a congressional election year.


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