Elon community wants economy, uniting America addressed at Obama’s inauguration
Delores Foster, an Elon resident who runs Coming Attractions Hair Salon, owns a large farmhouse off of Route 87 North in Alamance County. Built out of the lumber that is scattered around and found on the farm, the large building once housed five families during the Great Depression when everyone had or was close to losing everything.
After her father died last January, Foster said she didn’t think twice about selling neither the property nor the farmhouse.
“Five families lived there because it’s huge,” Foster said. “We’ll always have a place to go, because we have a big farmhouse.”
While she never thought her family would have to consider using the farmhouse again, Foster is keeping her options open and is looking toward President-elect Barack Obama to implement changes before American socio-economic situations become so dire again.
So come this Jan. 20, Foster said there is one specific thing she wants Obama to address in his inauguration speech.
“A. Economy. B. Economy. C. Economy,” she said.
Though she deems health care, insurance and social security as important issues she also wants addressed, Foster said the economy is rooted deeply in everything surrounding American communities.
While she hasn’t personally felt the tug of the economy at Coming Attractions, she said she can see it around her and that while she has “no clue” how to go about fixing it, she does know it is a problem that has to be tackled together.
“To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat or a Republican. The most crucial thing the House of Representatives and the Senate can do right now is work together for the betterment of the economy and to help the middle class people,” Foster said. “I try to be optimistic. I don’t want to be on the right, I don’t want to be on the left. I want to be straight down the middle.”
While she agreed the economy is the most important issue facing Americans today, Elon University Political Science Professor Sharon Spray said she does not think Obama will address any specific topics during his speech.
“I think this is a time in which presidents can use an inauguration speech to try to give people hope, try to give them inspiration,” Spray said. “I think that [Obama] has an opportunity here to think about trying to bring people together and he’s going to have to do that because it was a campaign that sort of drew people apart.”
Though she suspects there will be an “monumental” turnout despite the way the event is being downplayed for security reasons, Spray said this is a great opportunity to do more than just unite Americans.
“He’s going to have to address — of course — the sort of the negative time we’re in, the problems that we have,” Spray said.
Foster said many of her clients speak to her about the negative times. One of her customs recently had her hours at a local grocery store cut from 40 to 25 per week, her spouse was recently laid off and they are trying to support a small child as well.
“That’s just one couple,” Foster said. “It’s not just one thing. It’s in every aspect of our lives. These are the facts.”
Elon University Senior Olivia Hubert-Allen, who is a political science major from North Carolina as well as the editor-in-chief of the school’s student newspaper, echoes Foster’s thoughts. She thinks Obama will address the economy, since the local and national community as a whole is troubled about this unstable time.
“It concerns people,” Hubert-Allen said. “The economic situation is top priority for people at this point. But the Iraq situation is also still lingering.”
Hubert-Allen said the paper is covering the event since this is such a dramatic time in American history.
“The Pendulum will try to record history by documenting as a student paper and bringing that side of the story of readers because this is a historical inauguration,” Hubert-Allen said. “I think they’ll be an enormous outturn, since Obama had so many really passionate supporters and I think they will make the journey and travel to be there on inauguration day.”
But even though many people are looking forward to what Obama has to say and how he plans to turn America around, Burlington resident Robert Hamilton, who works as a body and paint mechanic at Young’s Auto Body Shop on Haggard Avenue, said he doesn’t care what Obama has to say on Jan. 20.
“It doesn’t matter what he talks about, something’s always changing,” Hamilton said. “It doesn’t matter what he says anymore. He says too much.”
But that isn’t stopping people like Foster, who also didn’t vote for Obama, from trying to make a difference.
Even though she feels helpless in the economic situation, she is trying to do her part and make an impact on a local level. She donates to Loaves & Fishes, a local food pantry in Alamance County, on a monthly basis since they are out of food and she feels responsible for looking after her local citizens.
Also invested in working with local citizens, Elon University Senior Mary Bomoman, a communications major from Pennsylvania, helps tutor children around the area. She expects educational standards to be addressed, since she doesn’t believe the No Child Left Behind program is sufficient.
But while this is an important topic for Bomoman and her children’s future, she said the economy takes top reign.
“I’m now searching for a job and it’s really not a good time to be doing so,” she said. “I don’t expect him to do all of these amazing changes right away, I do expect it to be a process.”
Foster said though it may be a long process, she is impressed with the cabinet Obama has appointed so far and their level of experience and expertise. She hopes they give him wisdom.
“You can’t walk into this situation without supporting him,” Foster said. “His backup is the most important thing. We’ve all got to look at this thing head on and figure out what we can do during this time and how we can help other people.”
Click the links to read more about Obama’s stance on the economy, Iraq and healthcare.
Watch why Delores Foster, an Elon resident who runs Coming Attractions Hair Salon, is worried most about the middle class, their loss of homes, no where to turn and inability to pay taxes.
See what Elon University Political Science Professor Sharon Spray has to say about what she thinks will be the main points President-elect Barack Obama will emphasize during his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2009.