Tech students, faculty reflect on 2008 election

After many months of campaigning and debating, Barack Obama has sealed his place as the U.S.’s current president-elect. With a strong opposition from McCain and a much stronger lineup of candidates than in the recent past, Americans have broken records and decided on the near future leadership of the country.

As a rigorous academic institution, Tech students, faculty and administration will be affected in ways other demographics and institutions and organizations may not be. Richard Barke, associate professor at the School of Public Policy, describes the predicted effects of what Obama’s next four years may bring, as well as the reasons and emotions behind the campus’ decision of 2008.

“Tech students are pretty reflective of the population,” Barke said. Having surveyed his own classes and speaking with many students here, he claims that the national six-point margin between McCain and Obama was very close to the alignment of Tech students. He also explained many of the reasons why he thinks Obama was victorious over McCain.

Obama’s character and personality were major selling points. It was “intelligence, maturity people were yearning for,” Barke said, noting the impression Obama gave people outside of his political standpoints.

The voting record of Tech students provided insight as to why Americans voted the way they did. “American voters surely appreciate Barack Obama’s intellect and his calm and confident character, both of which are important to the success of any leader,” said Nirouz Elhammali, a second-year INTA major.

Alan Edwards, a second-year CE major, agreed about the general clout surrounding Obama’s campaign. “Obama ran on a platform of change, and there’s no doubt that change is what Americans want and need right now. Even as a Republican supporter of Bush and McCain ideals, I completely understand why Obama received the support that he did,” Edwards said. “He’s something different.”

As a school heavily influenced by technology, research and education policy, Barke, Edwards and Elhammali noted the peculiarities with which Tech students should be concerned. “I don’t think we’ll see much change on defense research,” Barke said. As students, Edwards and Elhammali have their own unique perspectives as well.

“If Obama pushes an agenda to lessen our foreign energy dependence, you can be certain that Tech will be involved in one way or another,” Edwards said. “[A]ny sort of relief future presidents, not just Obama, can bring to our economy with the creation of more jobs and stimulating various markets will only expand what we have at our fingertips come graduation.”

Elhammali understands the importance of the relationship between Tech and policy making as well. “Barack Obama recognizes the importance of technological innovation in furthering our nation as a whole. There is no doubt that places like Tech hold the key to achieving that sort of technological success,” Elhammali said.

Although a McCain supporter, Edwards coped well with the outcome. “Overall, I’m disappointed that McCain lost but I’m not packing my bags anytime soon to skip across the border.

“Given that Obama picks a proactive and well-rounded Cabinet, and works closely with Congress to help steer our country in the direction it needs to be, I think we Republicans can wait four years to try again,” Edwards said.

Elhammali personalized Obama’s historic victory. “[President-elect Obama]’s ability to appeal to such a wide range of ages and ethnicities will prove advantageous not only to [his] reputation, but to the well being of our nation as a whole…[he] offers a sort of new hope that I, as a minority citizen, could not help but support,” Elhammali said.

Regarding the election process and government as a whole, Barke reveres the democratic basis of elections.

He warned about the skepticism of citizens as well as Tech students, reminding that government is not always the solution, but it is not always the problem. “[V]oting may be the holiest of our civic actions,” Barke said

Americans have exercised their sacred democratic right and holiest of civic actions and few would regret that ability.