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Aliza Levinger:
2011 Winner
CCC East River Housing Corp.

Aliza Levinger

Winning Essay

Approximately three years have passed since Obama began to first rocked our nation with his promises of change. Crowds were caught up in the tantalizing promises to cross party lines and unite politics toward common goals. Many citizens were aflame with ideas of crossing racial and party divides to improve the economy and improve the healthcare system. Much was said, much was promised . . . much has stayed the same. Has anything actually changed since Obama first uttered the magic word, or has the government more or less stayed stagnant, mired in divisiveness and deficit? Many issues can be brought up for discussion under this broad lens. Some of these include healthcare reform, attempts at bipartisanship/growth of the Tea Party, the threat of nuclear weapons and problems in the Middle East. All of these issues are important because they affect key issues in the way peoples' lives are run, the extent to which the government gets involved, and United States security.

The passing of the 'Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' was a historic victory for Obama in terms of the extent to which the current healthcare system will ultimately be revamped. Under this law, 48 million uninsured Americans will have new, affordable insurance options. Those with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied insurance. Small businesses will receive tax cuts to help pay for employee coverage. In 2014, individuals who don't receive coverage from their place of employment will begin to receive tax credits toward insurance. The passing of this bill enables many of those who previously did not have medical insurance to obtain it.

The formation of the Tea Party, is a second change that occurred under the Obama Presidency spurred on by the auto industry bailouts and healthcare reforms. Currently, the Tea Party is not a national political party, and mostly supports conservative republican views. They feel that the government should not get so involved in people's lives or in the economy. They oppose the part of the healthcare bill that forces everyone to have medical insurance. They opposed the wide scale bailouts that were passed.The Tea Party feels that it is not within the government's constitutional right to be involved at that level. The Tea Party has been a kink in Obama's vision of bipartisanship. Obama expressed the hope that the parties would work together to benefit our country without getting divided by strict partisan lines. While Democrats have so far seemed willing, for the most part, to come to agreements, many Republicans seem to be obstructing his goal by simply refusing to compromise. The strict anti-Obama Tea Party has only exacerbated this issue, further reducing the odds of a united front.

In the Middle East, there has been a subtle shift of view on Iran's nuclear capabilities due to exposure by Wikileaks. It was always clear the the US and Israel were aligned on preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Wikileaks revealed that many other Arab countries are equally terrified. This demonstrates just how very real this fear is, and proves wrong those who claim Iran's supposed nuclear goals are a fallacy. Currently our awareness and knowledge of the situation have changed. What remains to be done for the future is the hardest part - preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Otherwise, much damage will be caused when Iran has a new bargaining chip, and threat of mass destruction.

Another change in the Middle East is the renewed efforts on the part of the US to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. While this is a worthy goal, and has indeed brought each side back to the bargaining table after a settlement freeze in the disputed territories, nothing has been accomplished. While it is possible to attribute this to Israeli fault for many reasons, surprisingly little blame falls on the Palestinians for not truly seeking peace. They will always find a new reason not to continue negotiations because in truth, they don't wish to bargain. They seek to fulfill everything they have in mind. Until this crucial point is realized, we will forever be stuck in dizzying rounds and rounds of negotiations.

In the final analysis, much has changed since Obama first uttered the magic word. While much is stuck, unable to continue due to ideology, bureaucracy, budget problems and an unwillingness to compromise, the seeds of change have been planted. They may take many years to sprout and grow, and yes, flourish, but at the root, Obama has come through.



My name is Aliza Levinger, I am seventeen years old, the second of six children. I am currently a senior in Bais Yaakov Academy, an orthodox Jewish high school in Brooklyn, New York. I am the editor of my school newspaper, which is newly revitalized after having been dormant for the past few years. It serves as a voice for student issues and opinions. Inside, we also explore different social and moral issues, as well as career options and practical advice.

I enjoy writing, and my favorite subjects include any that allow for creative expression. I am particularly glad not to be taking math this year! I also enjoy history and psychology.

In my spare time, (between frantic newspaper deadlines and catching up on lost sleep,) I enjoy reading or just hanging out with friends. I also volunteer for a social outreach organization that helps underprivileged children. This includes a variety of events and get-togethers throughout the year, working in their summer camp, and occasionally some fundraising. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to productively use my skills and talents in order to help others.

I am looking forward to beginning my college career next year in an overseas program in Israel after which I will continue back at home, in Manhattan. I am currently exploring my options for majors, however I am not quite sure yet what I would like to do. I am considering a degree in education or psychology.

I am honored to receive this amazing privilege and opportunity and I would like to thank the Santora family and everyone involved in making it possible. May they have continued success in their endeavors!


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