Presidential Election Panel Discussion

By Elizabeth Romero, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

"What Do the U.S. Presidential Election Results Mean?" was the second installment in the Current Affairs: Faculty Panel Discussion Series, introduced by CHASS this fall to open new doors of learning to the UCR Community. The panel discussions are held to raise student and community awareness and understanding about current events that affect the region, state, nation and the world. The event, organized by CHASS Associate Dean, Anil B. Deolalikar, was held on November 6th in the University Theater.

Faculty, staff, students, and members of the community were in attendance to listen to and interact with a panel of six faculty speakers.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, Associate Professor of Political Science, noted that while voter turnout in the 2008 election was higher than in the past two elections, it was not significantly higher than in past elections. Indeed, voter turnout has been trending lower every since the last century. Professor Ramakrishnan also noted that the youth turnout was not much greater than in past elections, "but that the margin of victory for Senator Obama among young people was very large."

Erica Edwards, Assistant Professor of English, discussed the role of the media as well as stereotypes of race as factors in the presidential election.

Muhammad Ali, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, noted that the Obama  presidency is being welcomed by the Muslim world, which believes that President-elect Obama will be more even-handed than previous presidents in dealing with Islamic countries.

Georgia Warnke, CHASS Associate Dean and Professor of Philosophy, believed that, during the campaign, Obama brought out old- fashioned American ideals. Announcing to the audience that she was still "giddy" about Obama’s win, Professor Warnke said that Obama resembles F.D.R and J.F.K and "brings out the ethical sense of who are."

John Cioffi, Assistant Professor of Political Science, noted that environmental issues, which both presidential candidates talked about during the campaign, will be placed on the back burner as President Obama will first have to address the economic crisis. However, Professor Cioffi felt that reforming the economic regulatory framework, especially the banking and financial architecture of the economy, will be a key priority for the Obama administration.

Anil Deolalikar, CHASS Associate Dean and Professor of Economics, talked about how the economic crisis had moved from Wall Street to Main Street, and how consumer spending had fallen sharply in the last two months. Deolalikar said that while another fiscal stimulus will be needed soon, a stimulus in the form of tax rebate checks to individuals will not work. He mentioned that 80% of the money distributed to consumers under the fiscal stimulus last spring was saved – not spent – by consumers.

The speaker presentations were followed by a lively question-and-answer session. The panel discussions inform and engage students and faculty on timely matters of regional and global importance


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