Faculty hosts forum on Barack Obama’s campaign

Six Carnegie Mellon professors, along with Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields, sat down last Monday and discussed with students why they were supporting Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the upcoming election.

And though Doherty Hall 2210 is usually accustomed to larger crowds, the approximately 30 people in attendance mimicked memories of House Wars gone by, with a united front assuming Senator Obama’s iconic blue campaign colors, holding signs and wearing buttons depicting Obama’s name.

The speakers, too, were united in their political enthusiasm, but their reasons for supporting Obama differed.

“What impressed me with Obama is how he’s been able to mobilize young people,” said associate art professor Ayanah Moor.

The small audience agreed, nodding their heads and adding personal comments.

Associate history professor John Soluri commented on the significance of the Senator’s success so far.

“Everyone loves a winner,” he said. “It will be hard to overturn his current lead of delegates.”

Soluri’s comment referred to Obama’s current lead of 1396 delegates over Senator Hillary Clinton’s 1237 delegates, a difference of 160 delegates; 689 delegates remain undecided from future primaries, including 188 from Pennsylvania.

City council president Shields commented on Obama’s campaign contributions. “It’s no accident that Obama is gathering a million private contributions. Obama is the only one with a message saying ‘I’m thinking about you.’ ”

Continuing on the topic of funding, philosophy department faculty member Andy Norman said that what impressed him about Obama was “his refusing to take money from lobbyists.”

One of Obama’s campaign commercial’s echoes this point. “I don’t take money from oil companies or Washington lobbyists, and I won’t let them block change anymore,” Obama says in the commercial.

But that promise has recently been questioned by a USA Today article, which shows that employees of federal lobbying firms have given the Senator $2.26 million to date.

Regardless, the tone for the entire discussion was one of hope.

Lisa Hazirjian, an adjunct history professor and the forum’s stand-in moderator mentioned that she didn’t believe Obama’s recent comments regarding “bitter” rural Pennsylvanians would do much damage to his campaign.

“If Barack Obama becomes president, how other countries view the United States changes overnight,” Shields said. “Imagine if a kid in Africa were to wake up one day and see the ruler of the free world as a black man.”