Posted by: rcieri | December 11, 2008

Elon and Burlington residents await Obama’s inaugural address

If Elon and Burlington residents could have President Elect Barack Obama talk about one thing in his inaugural address, it would be the economy. With bailout mania overshadowing every other issue, citizens are eager to hear what their next president is going to do about it.

Elon University political science professor Rudy Zarzar

Elon University Political Science Professor Rudy Zarzar

“Everything becomes irrelevant if you don’t address the economy,” Professor of Political Science Rudy Zarzar said. “People will lose their jobs, and without a job, it’ll become a tradgedy for a lot of people.”

Zarzar is optimistic about the state of the economy with Obama in office, saying that the president elect has the knowledge and commitment to resolve the situation. Others are not so sure.

ARARMARK employee and Burlington resident Stephanie Thomas is skeptical about the entire bailout plan, and has just one question for Obama.

ARAMARK employee Stephanie Thomas

ARAMARK Employee Stephanie Thomas

“How in the world does he expect to pay for all this money he’s getting ready to hand out?” Thomas asked.

“It’s scary because all the other countries depend on the U.S. to bail them out, but we have to say ‘no.’ They need to take care of themselves,” she said.

Many simply want to hear more detail about the bailout plan, admitting that they don’t entirely understand how it is supposed to work.

Kernersville resident Kevin O'Brien

Kernersville resident Kevin O'Brien

Kevin O’Brien, Kernersville resident and vice president of sales at SublimeOne, is in this situation. He admits that he doesn’t have all of the solutions, but he says that it’s important for him to understand the details.

Elon University junior Emily Speer wants Obama to explain how the U.S. got into its current situation. Despite being only 20 years old, she recalls that, a few years ago, congress was “gung-ho mortgage,” and she wants some explanation as to what made them change their minds.

She would also like Obama more of the specifics of the problem, like U.S. dependency on foreign products.

While most are eagerly awaiting the address, some feel that nothing Obama can say or do will make any difference.

Burlington resident Jeff Barbour

Burlington resident Jeff Barbour

Burlington resident Jeff Barbour thinks that Obama, or any other politician for that matter, is incapable of digging the U.S. out of the financial mess it has gotten into.

“There are a lot of things I’d like to hear, but they aren’t going to be things he’ll talk about,” Barbour said of Obama’s upcoming inaugural speech. “It’s a feel good kind of thing. It’s almost a childlike state of mind.”

Barbour said that all politicians simply want to appease their voters rather than be honest and admit to the current crisis, and Obama will be no different. Printing money is not the answer.

“We can’t continue to print money, or the economy will collapse. They talk about the government sponsoring medical bills, but there is no money for it. All the politicians know it, but they don’t want to admit it,” he said.

“We live by the golden rule – those with the gold make the rules.” By this, Barbour means that polticians will do anything they can to stay in power, Obama included.

“There will be no real difference between Obama and Bush,” he said.

Based on a Dec. 6 radio address, Obama knows the importance of the economy to his constituents.

“Yesterday, we received another painful reminder of the serious economic challenge our country is facing when we learned that 533,000 jobs were lost in November alone, the single worst month of job loss in over three decades,” he said, beginning his address.

He announced that a few key parts of his plan dealt with energy efficiency, investing in the national infrastructure and upgrading school buildings.

Despite the overwhelming consensus of desire to hear Obama’s plan for the economy, that issue is not first on everyone’s minds.

Burlington resident Brenda Wilson

Burlington resident Brenda Wilson

Burlington resident Brenda Wilson deals with the struggles of illegal immigrants every day in her job as the director of Christian education at Davis Street United Methodist Church, and she wants to know what Obama is going to do about it.

Realistically, Wilson knows that he probably won’t even bring up the subject in his speech, but she believes it is of the utmost importance for the government to devise a system that will help make illegal aliens citizens.

“Their children go through the school system and feel like they are Americans, but once they leave, they can’t do anything because they don’t have the documentation,” she said.

While the issue has been largely overshadowed, one of the first things on Zarzar’s mind is the fate of healthcare. He predicts that the number of Americans who are uninsured could rise to 40 million in no time at all.

With opinions ranging across the board, Obama’s inaugural address is one of the most anticipated events in the new year.



  1. I wonder why YouTube removed a couple of your video clips for a “terms of use violation”… ???

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