West Not­ting­ham teacher at­tends DNC con­ven­tion

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JOE ANTOSHAK


— A county teacher has taken sev­eral steps into the po­lit­i­cal realm this year, cul­mi­nat­ing last week in a trip to the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion to serve as a del­e­gate for U.S. Sen. Bernie San­ders.

Con­nor Cal­la­han, who teaches math at West Not­ting­ham Acad­emy in Colora, re­turned re­cently from the Phil­a­del­phia con­ven­tion with an en­hanced per­spec­tive on the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.

In short, Cal­la­han said he finds faults with the es­tab­lished Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic ide­olo­gies, both of which have been chal­lenged this elec­tion sea­son by high-pow­ered pop­ulist move­ments.

“If both par­ties want to re­main rel­e­vant, to not be to­tally oblit­er­ated, they’re go­ing to have to change a lit­tle bit,” he said Tues­day.

Cal­la­han felt in­spired to make his foray into pol­i­tics early in 2015, when San­ders an­nounced his can­di­dacy. Though the 2014 grad­u­ate of St. John’s Col­lege in An­napo­lis had a scant po­lit­i­cal re­sume to that point, he felt San­ders’s plat­form most closely re­sem­bled his own. He felt en­cour­aged to get in­volved.

“I thought, ‘Hey, here’s a guy who re­ally rep­re­sents my views on a lot of is­sues,’” he said, ref­er­enc­ing aims such as free col­lege tu­ition and the ex­pan­sion of so­cial pro­grams like Medi­care, the Af­ford­able Care Act and So­cial Se­cu­rity.

When he found that the San­ders cam­paign was call­ing for sup­port­ers to run as DNC del­e­gates, he ap­plied. Sev­eral months later, he saw his name on the pri­mary bal­lot. And then he won.

But, as is now old news, San­ders was not elected the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee — for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton was — and that’s prompted ques­tions about how San­ders sup­port­ers will vote in the gen­eral elec­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the ma­jor­ity of re­cent na­tional polls, Clin­ton and Repub­li­can nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump sit within sev­eral per­cent­age


Wolfe Nel­son, Gra­ham Gal­lagher and Con­nor Cal­la­han, all grad­u­ates of St. John’s Col­lege in 2014, stand to­gether dur­ing the 2016 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Phil­a­del­phia.

points of each other, with many re­port­ing a mar­ginal lead for Clin­ton — one that could po­ten­tially evap­o­rate with­out sup­port from San­ders’s fol­low­ers.

Cal­la­han said he be­lieves in vot­ing for the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, though he hes­i­tates to call him­self a Clin­ton sup­porter. He added that he’s hop­ing to con­tact other pro­gres­sive Democrats he’s met in the county and hash out these thoughts.

“There is a thought that [San­ders sup­port­ers] are go­ing to go Green or Lib­er­tar­ian, and I un­der­stand why they’d feel that im­pulse,” he said. “They feel like they’re al­ways be­ing told to choose the lesser of two evils.”

But Cal­la­han doesn’t quite see it that way. Rather, he views it as a re­spon­si­bil­ity to give Clin­ton the vote and hold her ac­count­able if she wins the pres­i­dency. The sur­pris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of San­ders’s “demo­cratic so­cial­ism,” es­pe­cially with Mil­len­nial vot­ers, has shifted Clin­ton’s plat­form to­ward the pro­gres­sive, and Cal­la­han wants to make

sure she fol­lows through on past state­ments.

He noted as an ex­am­ple her ad­ver­sar­ial po­si­tion to the 2010 Cit­i­zens United de­ci­sion, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the gov­ern­ment could not limit cor­po­ra­tions’ po­lit­i­cal spend­ing in can­di­date elec­tions.

And some of the work Cal­la­han ex­pects Clin­ton to ac­com­plish runs par­al­lel to that of her party at large.

“[The Demo­cratic Party] has a lot of work to do to bring peo­ple back into its fold,” he said. “It has a lot to do to bring back in spe­cial in­ter­est groups it’s taken for granted.”

Un­til that hap­pens, he’ll Con­nor Cal­la­han (left) stands with for­mer Mary­land Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley and Gra­ham Gal­lagher, a fel­low grad­u­ate of St. John’s Col­lege, out­side the 2016 Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion in Phil­a­del­phia. be do­ing what he can to push for change. He said he wouldn’t rule out run­ning for elected of­fice in the fu­ture, though it’s not high on his pri­or­ity list right now.

“Part of what I’ve come to un­der­stand is that lo­cal pol­i­tics is where it all starts,” Cal­la­han said. “I’m most ex- cited to see how San­ders’s mo­men­tum keeps go­ing in the fu­ture.”




Con­nor Cal­la­han sits for a Mary­land del­e­gates break­fast at the Inn at Penn.

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