Cal State-Fullerton Political Science Professors Weigh In On Presidential Candidates

This story was written by Staff Reports, Daily Titan


As a very long election season comes to a close, California State University-Fullerton professors are speculating on how important issues like the economy, foreign policy, civil rights and women's rights will change after the new president is sworn in.

The first year of the presidency is not going to be cheery. Both McCain and Obama have promised things that will not be doable, Paul Peretz, Cal State-Fullerton political science professor, said.

It is not news to anyone that the economy is in a recession. Unemployment is up. In 2007, the national unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. As of September 2008, it was 6.1 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

People are losing their homes and the U.S. financial system is in trouble. This recession is going to last about 20 months instead of the average six to 16 months, Peretz said, adding that he thinks housing prices will not bottom out until next year, and there will be more foreclosed homes.

Peretz predicted that if elected, Obama will implement work programs to reduce unemployment.

On foreign policy, Barack Obama and John McCain differ. Obama promises to meet with both allies and adversaries and supports a tough and direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions, according to BarackObama.com.

Obama plans to offer Iran a World Trade Organization membership as an incentive if it agrees to stop developing its nuclear program. If Iran continues to develop its nuclear program, Obama will work with allies to pressure Iran with economic sanctions and political isolation. He will rebuild alliances and restore American diplomacy, according to the Web site.

Irene Matz, an associate professor from the human communications department, said she believes that Obamas diverse racial background will allow others to relate to him.

I have confidence that Senator Obama will bridge relationships both at home and abroad, Matz said. I appreciate that he wants to speak to foreign leaders, then act. He is not reactionary.

McCains highest priority is homeland security. He pledges to reduce the number of dangerous nuclear weapons in the world by engaging with U.S. allies, according to his Web site.

In 2004, McCain fought for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, which led to the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center and the Office of Director of National Intelligence, according to the Web site.

McCain uses his military experience and time as a prisoner of war as an advantage over Obama, although there is debate over how his time in Hanoi affects his foreign policy.

Alexei Shevchenko, an assistant political science professor, suggests it may lead to doubts about his judgment.

Vietnam experience does not make McCain more proficient in foreign policy, Shevchenko said.

According to Shevchenko, some Russian analysts believe that McCains tough stance on Russia is conditioned by his Cold War memories.

This election has been a breakthrough for women, with Sarah Palin as a vice-presidential candidate and Hillary Clinton coming close to being the Democratic presidential candidate, Matz said.

Women have shown they are educated, qualified and have the emotional intelligence to lead, Matz said. The election has opened many doors for women.

Matz added that Palins lack of knowledge about our government, Supreme Court decisions and currents events has been disappointing. There are many other talented, professional and qualified Republican women who would have represented the candidacy better than Palin, Matz said.

On womens rights, an Obama-Biden presidency proises many things. Both Obama and Biden are pro-choice, support stem cell research, and want to expand access to contraception. They have promised to strengthen domestic violence laws and fight for pay equity, according to BarackObama.com.

Although Obama has always fought for the empowerment of women, he will be required to pay a great deal of attention to womens rights because of the Hillary Clintons supporters, who now back him, said Lezlee Hinesmon-Matthews, an assistant professor of Afro-Ethnic Studies.

Both McCain and Obama plan to fight employment discrimination. Obama pledges to expand hate crimes statutes and to eliminate sentencing disparities.

As someone who has seen the bias, prejudice and unfairness of human rights, I believe if Sen. Obama is elected, he will do a lot to bring fairness and equality in America, no matter what ethnic, gender, class or ability one has, Matz said.

John McCain disagrees with some of Obamas beliefs. McCain and Palin are pro-life and promise to nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade and leave the issue of abortion up to the individual states. Instead, McCain has promoted adoption since he and his wife Cindy adopted a daughter from Bangladesh, according to JohnMcCain.com. McCain also wants to preserve the traditional family and the institution of marriage, which he believes consists of one man and one woman. He does not support stem cell research because it erodes moral and ethical principles, according to his Web site.

With the election's outcome only hours away, America will experience a first. Regardless of whether a black man is elected president, or a woman is elected vice president, the country will stray away from its current path after eight years of the Bush administration.
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