A Promised Land by Barack Obama

The president of the United States is one of the most powerful positions held in the world. With so much power to influence both domestic and global policies, it comes with great responsibility, pressure, and scrutiny. Being someone who doesn’t follow politics closely, I still question the reasoning behind certain policies. However with so many things that happen behind the scenes and the well-coined term of playing politics, I wonder what considerations are made when drafting a bill.

A Promised Land is the first part of a two-volume memoir on Barack Obama. It goes over how Obama got into politics, how he raised through the ranks to become POTUS, and what goes into the operation that killed Osama Bin Laden.

My biggest takeaway is the amount of work and coordination that goes into passing a bill. Politicians belong to different parties and everyone has their self interests no matter if it’s supporting their own party interest or to poll well in their next local election. This means that oftentimes the best crafted out bills have to be watered down from giving out concessions to convince senators, especially from opposing parties, to support the bill. It speaks not only to the US political system, as it’s just a microcosm of society, where people can prioritize their self-interest over public interest.

The filibuster is a powerful legislative device in the United States Senate. Senate rules permit a senator or senators to speak for as long as they wish and on any topic they choose, unless “three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn” bring debate to a close by invoking cloture under Senate Rule XXII.

I couldn’t believe it when I read about filibuster. A method where you never end your side of the debate to delay or entirely prevent a decision from being made. Talking endlessly in order to prevent an unfavourable outcome sounds immature especially in politics when the stakes are so high. Obama went in depth on how his team needed to give out concessions to senators in order to gain their support. This shows the difficulty in crafting a bill and that securing votes is just as important especially when filibuster is taken into account.

Obama talked extensively about the sacrifice his family had to make to support his political career. In a marriage, responsibilities are often divided where one person works and the other takes care of the family. It’s important to know that both roles are vital to a family and that staying at home shouldn’t be valued any less than the role of providing for the family. In fact, the person staying at home is usually the one making the bigger sacrifice and should be valued and appreciated. When your partner or parent is the president of the United States, you instantly lost the normalcy you are accustomed to, you have to relocate and travel to support political campaigns, and you might need to give up your career goals.

I throughly enjoyed A Promised Land by Barack Obama. Books like this which gives me a unique perspective and experience always rank high on my list. Obama provides a lot of details which can at times appear dragged out but it also helps paint a clearer picture of the lifestyle of the first family of the United States. I’m looking forward to the second volume of the memoir and will also be picking up Becoming by Michelle Obama.