Participants in a panel discussion hosted by the Peace with Justice Center of the Pomona Valley last week considered the challenges facing the Obama Administration. José Calderón, professor of sociology and Chicano studies at Pitzer College; Charles Doskow, professor of constitutional law at the ULV College of Law; Dorena Wright, professor of English at ULV; Jay Jones, ULV professor of biology; and Mel Boynton, president the Pomona Valley Chapter of the United Nations Association, participated in the Feb. 23 event.
The Peace with Justice Center of the Pomona Valley debated expectations of the Obama administration in “The Road Ahead,” at the Unity Church of Pomona last week.
Before a group of more than 40 community members including some ULV faculty members and students, Mel Boynton began the panel discussion with the state of the economy.
“There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room that the president is constantly dealing with and it is the economy,” Boynton, president of the Pomona Valley Chapter United Nations Association said. “It is not going to turn easy, it is like turning a battle ship, after you turn the rudder it takes a while until you see the change in direction.”
Boynton also talked about his work with the Obama campaign before the election.
As far as what to expect with foreign affairs in the years to come, Boynton pointed out that with more than 192 nations to deal with there will be problems but they can be fixed.
“Transparency and respect for human rights will be the hallmark in international affairs for Obama’s policy,” Boynton said.
Next to the podium was Charles Doskow, professor at the College of Law, and he quickly addressed Boynton’s comments on the economy.
“Obama has been president for 35 days and almost 12 hours and he still hasn’t solved the economic crisis, and we should be impatient,” Doskow said.
Doskow added that Obama must not take lightly the continuing need to fight terrorism.
“There is another 800 pound gorilla in the room, and it is the fact that Vice President Dick Cheney gave the president a warning as he left the White House,” Doskow said. “He warned not to dismantle everything they have done to stop terrorism because it has been done for a reason.”
He ended by saying that we will see Obama protecting his “flanks” as well as ours in the upcoming years, the war on terror is not over.
The next panelist was Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry, who used his time to address the environmental issues Obama will face.
“With over 6.8 billion people on earth and the carrying capacity is about three billion, we are sucking the bank account dry,” Jones said.
He said that the United States was living under the weight of a glacier with the Bush administration, there were more problems raised than fixed.
“The only thing we can do in this presidency is hope that enough changes in a short amount of time will keep the attention of the electorate to stay the course,” Jones said.
Jones said for the world to be able to sustain more than 9 billion people in 2050, Obama and the rest of the world must focus on our earth because our resources are dwindling.
José Calderón, professor of sociology at Pitzer College, talked about immigration.
“Today many of us believe Obama will rise to change the way this country is run and how we will come together,” Calderón said.
Calderón also praised the president for his commitment to universal health care.
“Our only hope is to organize and remind Obama of his promises,” Calderón said.
"There is the danger of Obama moving in a nationalist direction of “buy America” and to hell with everyone else. Of course, in today's world, no economy is independent and it is wrong to offer protectionism as an alternative. Hopefully, President Obama will continue to be part of a growing social movement in this country that strikes at the heart of class, race, gender, sexuality inequalities while, at the same time, building unity around the larger structural issues which are causing our institutions to decay, destroying our standard of living, and which affect the large majority of workers in this country."
Following the panel discussion, everyone in the chapel was on edge to give his or her opinions and thoughts to the panel, and so the floor was opened to discussion, and numerous topics were debated.
The night ended with the audience and panel clearly eager to see change with the new presidency.
Samantha Sincock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was edited from its original version on July 20, 2009, to clarify a quote by José Calderón.