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Richard J. "Rick" Hardy
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WIU Political Science Chair, A Former Elector, Weighs in on Election 2008

October 31, 2008

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MACOMB, IL - - What does Election 2008 mean to Americans? How does it impact this nation's economic, energy, foreign policy, and more; and what could happen to the Supreme Court?

Richard J. "Rick" Hardy, professor and chair of the political science department at Western Illinois University, talked to these and more questions in an interview that is available as a video podcast on Western's YouTube site at

"We are at a unique crossroads in our country…in a harmful, difficult period," Hardy said, addressing the energy crisis, continuing immigration problems and the nation's budget. "We are saddled with tremendous debt. Our No. 1 outlay is national defense, and perhaps it should be; but our No. 2 outlay is the interest payment on the national debt - - the interest payment: it's more than education, transportation, environmental protection and homeland security all together," Hardy said. "And we are indebted to foreign countries, mainly Japan, China and the United Kingdom. It's not healthy to be so indebted.

"This election will also impact new legislation, immigration changes, the Constitution, foreign policy and be of longterm importance in terms of the Supreme Court," added Hardy, who was a nominee for U.S. Congress (1992), represented the 2004 Electoral College and has served as a political consultant and analyst for many organizations and major media outlets. "It would behoove every American to think carefully, to weigh it out and to do what he or she thinks is best for our country, as it will have a lasting impact."

A constitutional law expert, Hardy was named the College of Arts and Sciences John Hallwas Lecturer this fall; and he presented the Sixth Annual John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture, "The Constitution: Its Fate Depends on Civic Leaders," in September. The text of his message is available at, and the video is available at

The Candidates
What might we expect when either Democratic candidate Barack Obama or GOP candidate John McCain wins the presidential election?

"Obama is liberal; perhaps the most liberal of the senators. Look for a more immediate withdrawal from Iraq; changes in taxes; an increase in spending for education; and attention toward universal health care.

"With McCain, we would see a longer phasing out of the troops from Iraq; an effort to maintain the current tax rates; more of a push to have the private sector resolve problems instead of government. And, because it probably will be a Democratic Congress, he would have to use his veto," Hardy said.

The Battleground States
Which states have the potential to be the battleground states in the presidential campaign?

While it can change daily, a week before the election Hardy said, "McCain has to win Florida (with 27 electoral votes). Next, look at North Carolina and Virginia. And if he gets one of those states then look at Ohio or Pennsylvania."

Hardy also called Missouri "the national political weather vane," because the Show-Me state has been right on all but one presidential election over the past 120 years. He adds that New Mexico is a swing state.

Congressional Races

All seats in Congress are up for re-election, but the competitive races will be on the Republican side; and one-third of the Senate seats are up, again with the Republican side the most vulnerable, according to Hardy.

If Democrats pick up six or seven seats, that will make the Senate filibuster proof, he added.

2007 Race to the White House Mock Election at WIU

In 2007, Hardy was project director for a five-night mock presidential election, "The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University." Some 2,000 WIU students, along with more than 100 faculty members from multiple disciplines, participated in the hands-on simulation. Student journalists reported on multiple media platforms, including a print and online newspaper and a real-time blog. Broadcasting students covered the simulation live on wiutv3.

"Our students came out overwhelmingly for Barack Obama, and people would say to me that was unrealistic, they are biased by the fact that he is from Illinois," Hardy said. "Honestly, our students did a pretty good job of mirroring what was going on; there was a contagious enthusiasm for Barack Obama. Students gravitated toward him like a magnet. From the beginning, Obama had groups in here working the simulation. They were well organized.

"I think you are going to find a record-setting turnout by young people in this election," Hardy added.

The Vote
"Citizens hold the highest office in a democracy. It's not the president; not the Supreme Court," said Hardy, referencing the sentiment of the late Justice Felix Frankfurter, who served the Court from 1939-1962.

"We citizens hold the highest office because we determine who is going to be the leader of our country. Now we have this opportunity on Nov. 4, and I hope a lot of people exercise their right to vote," Hardy added. "One vote can make a difference."

The Video Podcast
Visit to view several segments about Election 2008 and elections in general that were taped with Hardy on Oct. 22. The topics are listed below.

Video Podcast Segments (Time) on YouTube
1. The Candidates and What's at Stake (0:07-6:15)
2. Congressional Races (6:20-8:12)
3. Battleground States (8:14-14:52)
4. Electors (14:54-16:13)
5. Supreme Court (16:15-20:29)
6. Polls and Methodology (20:31-23:05)
7. Media Bias (23:05-25:03)
8. 2007 Mock Election: WIU Students Predict Obama (25:04-27:42)

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