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Panel emphasizes the importance of 2008 Presidential election

<tober 1, a panel of five professors assembled in the Great Hall to present “Why This Election Matters”, a political discussion hosted by the Virtual Humanities Center.

The Virtual Humanities Center is a new organization, which is to be located in the Arts Union after its reconstruction. The Virtual Humanities Center’s role “is to promote humanities research,” said Cathy Yandell,a David and Marian Adams Bryn-Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities.

The panel included: Angela Curran, Professor of Philosophy, Adriana Estill, Associate Professor of English and American Studies, Al Montero, Professor of Political Science and Director of Political Economy, George Vrtis, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Technology Studies and History, and Harry Williams, Laird Bell Professor of History and Director of African/African American Studies.

Each professor was invited to speak for about 10 minutes and each offered a different view to approach the election.

Vrtis began, centering his piece around environmental issues.

“Let me offer two…perspectives on the politics of environmentalism. First….for most of the past century, environmental issues have had the wide spread support of both parties,” said Vrtis.

“Secondly…consider the less visible things, like trade policies, and how they influence [the canidates’] position[s] toward the environment. We need to be mindful of how seemingly disconnect things, like business policies…ultimately…determine things we care about, like the environment.”

Estill next took the stage, focusing on representation of individuals.

“Our democratic system is one that hinges on the idea of representation. We ask our officials to represents our views and opinions on issues. We also ask them to represent us.”

Estill went on to discuss the “archetypes” the candidates have seem to become and how our tendency to “ache to have our politians to be like us…is dangerous.”

“We need to work together as a community to get beyond our human tendencies to elect someone who is just like us,” said Estill.

The third to speak was Curran, who added to Estill’s discussion of identity and argued that the candidates needed to be better challenged.

“The idea of identity seems to figure into how people are thinking of this election,” said Curran “[but we must also consider] Consequentialism, which is making a decision based on the consequences…identity is central in how we are judging candidates but I think the voters are trying to get beyond that reductive lens in which the media is trying to place the candidates.”­­­­­-

Curran said, “It is clear to me that we need more conceptual analysis on what it is we want as Americans for our country…we [should] think international and to do this we need a President…that will discuss what problems unite us as human beings.”

Williams was next to present. “I title this “On Being An Aggressive Pessimism” or “As I Look Down The Road And I Wondered” [after a gospel song].”

Williams explained, “Aggressive Pessimism… [is] a mode of thought that struggles with leaps of fate that people can be transformed…” Williams pointed out that may of the issues being discussed today had been discussed since his days as an undergraduate.

Williams encouraged the audience to question the placement of power within the government. “There are questions behind the question of ‘the importance of this election’: important to whom?” said Williams.

He also considered the role of the media, saying, “one doubts that in this or any election the media wants to compe tently liberate mainstream consumers about who participates in the real decision making process in America.”

Montero was the last to speak. He offered three predictions, beginning with, “One, Obama will win. Why do I think Obama is going to win? Well, I follow polls every day…the latest models support a 70% chance of an Obama victory”.

Montero’s next prediction was, “two, the bailout being negotiated in Washington will fail.”

Montero went into heavy detail on the economy, realestate, and Wall Street. “Inevitably, there will be a deep and long recession that will inch the employment rate up closer to 7%…it is going to be a global recession.”

Montero continued, “[My] third predictive assumption [is] after all is said and done, the U.S. will still be credit worthy.”

The presentation closed with question from students. Students are encouraged to continue discussions across campus.

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