By Sarah Meyer: PNT Staff Writer
Tuesday’s election of the nation’s first black president likely will have an impact on the nation, but local professors say the change isn’t likely to be immediate.
The historic legacy of a Barack Obama presidency could be that race ceases to be a defining characteristic, said Don Elder, professor of history at Eastern New Mexico University.
“My fervent hope is that 20 years from now, we won’t be pointing out that this person is from this group,” he said. “I hope … I honestly think that will be the legacy.”
He said in a recent discussion with four students, all of different racial backgrounds, they wanted to talk about the election and about how excited they were to be able to vote.
It reminded him of John F. Kennedy asking the public to get involved during his inaugural speech in 1961.
“I think this is a time when we’ll see people of all backgrounds wanting to make a difference,” Elder said, hoping for positive social results from the election within two years.
When he was a child, Elder said, the possibility of a woman or a person of color becoming president “was beyond the realm of comprehension. … It’s a privilege to live in a country where this is possible.”
Finance professors say there won’t be an immediate impact on the nation’s economy.
“The removal of uncertainty will allow people to plan,” said William Brunsen, professor of finance at ENMU. “That will not solve the liquidity of the financial markets.”
Nonetheless, identifying the country’s leader and Congressional members who will be in charge is “progress,” Brunsen said.
ENMU finance professor David Hemley said Obama faces several problems, including the economy. He thinks it will take some time for the economy to recover.
“One of the big problems is that spending is going up faster than revenue is coming in,” he said. “I think in the not too distant future, we’ll see another stimulus package.”
That stimulus package will create a short-term deficit, but if done correctly, should create jobs and eventually generate tax revenue for the nation.
“I think it’s going to take time,” Hemley said. “With the proper stimulus package, I think we’ll come out of this (around) the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. We’re going to be in this a while.”
However, Hemley saw good news on the local economic front. In spite of national worries, local and state voters passed bond issues that will help senior citizen centers, school and public libraries, health facilities, and provide building funds for higher education.
The bonds, particularly for health facilities and higher education, are “very important for the growth of the local economy,” he said.