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Posts Tagged ‘christopher leahy’

The Insurgents: Trump and Sanders

Professor of History Dr. Chris Leahy sets the stage for the next chapter in the race for the White House.

On the surface, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have little in common.

However, on the March edition of Keuka College Today (WFLR, Finger Lakes Radio Network), hosted by Director of Grants, Government Relations, and Compliance Doug Lippincott, Professor of History Dr. Chris Leahy labeled Trump and Sanders as insurgents.

As the primary and caucus season heads into April, Leahy answered a number of burning questions, including:

Leahy also discusses the possibility of the Republican Party dealing with an open or brokered convention, and takes us back to the 1860 Republican convention when a man named Seward from Auburn, N.Y., was favored to get the nomination but was denied by a man named Lincoln from Springfield, Ill.

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Big Night, Big Wins for Keuka College Alumni

Election Day 2015 was a stellar success for two Keuka College graduates. Aileen McNabb-Coleman ’00 and Tom Drumm ’15 both won seats in the Cayuga and Oswego county legislatures, respectively.

Aileen Coleman-McNabb, center, celebrates her victory Election Night. (Image courtesy the Auburn Citizen.)

Running on the Democrat, Independent and Working Family lines, Mc-Nabb-Coleman defeated opponent Joseph Runkle, to win a four-year term in Cayuga’s 6th District seat. Meanwhile, Drumm, who ran on the Democratic and Women’s Equality lines for Oswego’s 16thDistrict seat, defeated Republican opponent James Scanlon and will serve a two-year term. At Keuka College, McNabb-Coleman earned a degree in unified childhood/special education while Drumm earned degrees in political science and history and organizational communication.

“I believe strongly in engagement and participation in local government,” said McNabb-Coleman “Due to the climate of the national stage of politics, I find that citizens are disengaged; couple that with having busy careers and family life, and it is difficult to increase awareness.”

So she did something about it.

McNabb-Coleman and her family. (Image courtesy Aileen McNabb-Coleman).

“When I finally decided to run for county legislator, what drove me was the idea of setting our county on a new fiscally responsible path so that my children could enjoy the fruits of our labor—and representing women on a 15-member, all male, county legislature,” said McNabb-Coleman, who used the phrase “Run Like a Girl” in her campaign signs to reinforce her position.

Drumm said he ran on a message of “new energy and new blood” at the county level. He started getting that message out about six months ago when he launched his campaign and sticking to it proved effective, he said.

“I think those in the county are craving new leadership,” Drumm said. “I discussed that we seem to have become stagnant, whether in social issues or some economic areas as well.”

Drumm’s campaign got a boost the Sunday before Election Day from six political science and history majors at Keuka College who traveled to Oswego with Dr. Angela Narasimhan, assistant professor of political science and history. After convening briefly at the union hall for Oswego’s UA Local 73 to hear from Drumm about his platform, the group picked up campaign literature and set out to help Drumm make door-to-door visits.

The Keuka College team with Dr. Narasimhan, center, gave Drumm, left of her, in blue, a final boost.

“It was huge how that team helped me cover my entire district in a day,” Drumm said. “My opponent was a lifelong resident in the city, raised a family and he’s lived here probably 45 years, and sometimes that works to people’s advantage. I’m fresh out of college and it can take a lot to establish a coalition. The big thing is the final push – you have to turn out the vote. To get a push like that from students who traveled two hours to Oswego to help knock on doors for a campaign like mine – I’m in debt to them. I’m so grateful.”

According to Dr. Narasimhan, three of the students had never met Tom and several were interested in getting involved politically back home so they were eager to hear his story and his advice.

Drumm and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, during Drumm's freshman-year Field Period™ at one of Schumer's regional offices.

“He used each Field Period™ experience and his major to explore different avenues, and was able to tell my students about the connections he made and how he found an office to run for,” Dr. Narasimhan said, describing how Drumm learned from local party leaders the strategy they envisioned for him to win an open seat. The canvassing experience “absolutely” aligned with the College’s focus on experiential learning, she added.

During his time as a student, Drumm conducted separate Field Period™ experiences with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) and the NYS Democratic Committee. He also completed his senior practicum with Doug Lippincott, Keuka College’s executive director of grants, government relations and compliance. Some of the individuals he met became mentors, Drumm said.

“It’s very rewarding to see it all pay off  – it’s exciting, and honestly, it’s a little overwhelming,” Drumm said, attributing his win to “not only how much I’ve learned but the amazing people I met during college —professors like Drs. Narasimhan, Chris Leahy, David Leon—who gave me the confidence and knowledge to be able to make a political run at 22.”

Both Drumm and McNabb-Coleman will be sworn into their new offices in early January.

Hillary, The Donald, and Joe

To say the race for the White House has been wild and wacky is an understatement.

It wasn’t that long ago that pundits were predicting a Clinton-Bush rematch—this time Hillary and Jeb. Yes, Hillary is leading the Democratic polls but it’s been a rollercoaster ride for the former U.S. senator and secretary of state. And who knows what will happen after the Benghazi hearing? Who would have guessed her primary challenger would Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont. And Bernie is big, as his portrayal by Larry David on Saturday Light Live attests.

On the other side, Jeb has tumbled in the polls thanks to two insurgents—billionaire Donald Trump, whose bombastic style and views on immigration have drawn admiration and disgust, and Dr. Ben Carson, the soft-spoken surgeon who spoke at Keuka College in 2010.

What better person to make sense of all this than Dr. Chris Leahy, professor of history and political analyst. Leahy analyzed all the political maneuverings on the October edition of Keuka College Today, which airs on WFLR (1570 AM, 96. 9/101.9 FM, Finger Lakes Radio Network).

Adding intrigue to the show, hosted by Executive Director of Grants, Government Relations, and Compliance Doug Lippincott, was that it aired live a day after Joe Biden announced he would not run for president.

Leahy, a regular guest on the show, will offer his analysis during the primary season, after the conventions, and right before Americans go to the polls next November.

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Rethinking First Impressions

American history is full of examples of people whose appearance, background, religion, sex, or race caused other people to discount them at the beginning, but who overcame that underestimation to make important contributions.

So said Dr. Christopher Leahy, professor of history and the 2014-15 Professor of the Year at Keuka College, in his keynote address Tuesday at academic convocation, which marks the official opening of the 2015-16 academic year. The ceremony includes a colorful processional with upperclassman bearing flags from around the world and faculty in regalia lining the sidewalk to Norton Chapel and applauding new students as they enter. This year, a record-setting number of new students experienced this symbolic rite of passage.

In Dr. Leahy’s address, the eight-year faculty veteran challenged students to resist the temptation to discount what someone else might teach them because of “superficial attributes.” He gave two examples from American history of individuals initially underestimated who defied expectations to make an undeniable mark: Al Smith, a NY State Assemblyman and four-term governor, and Fannie Lou Hamer, a civil rights activist and one-time Congressional candidate from Mississippi.

New members of the Keuka College Class of 2019.

“People underestimated both Al Smith and Fannie Lou Hamer,” Dr. Leahy contended. “In Smith’s case, his colleagues in the NY State Assembly believed they had nothing to learn from a Bowery Irishman whose accent and (Catholic) religion were suspect. In Hamer’s case, her impoverished background, her race—and her sex—led white Mississippians to doubt her resolve and ability to effect change… Enough people doubted them, or told them they could not succeed, that they might have started to believe it themselves. Yet they did not.”

According to Dr. Leahy, Smith’s lack of formal education and Catholic background garnered condescension from Ivy League-educated legislators from elsewhere in the state, when he first won his Assembly seat in 1903. Yet Smith fought to prove himself, committing legislative bills to memory, sponsoring bills of his own, and leading the commission investigating the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911. Ultimately, Smith was elected governor of New York in 1917, served four terms and became the first Catholic to earn the Democratic nomination for U.S. President in 1928.

The granddaughter of slaves and child to sharecropper parents, Hamer became a vocal activist in the civil rights movement, literally singing hymns to scores of African-Americans riding buses to voter registration stations throughout the state. Famous for the line “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Hamer endured an arrest, jail beating and other persecutions to rally African-Americans and white students in the North to support civil rights. Her work helped bring national attention to the Civil Rights Bill championed by Pres. Lyndon Johnson in 1964. In addition to a run for Congress, Hamer also fought to win seats for African-American delegates of the Mississippi Freedom Party at the Democratic National Convention; stymied in 1964, she succeeded by 1968.

Dr. Leahy even shared a personal instance of underestimation: as a high school sophomore in Baltimore, Leahy complained to a friend after just one class that his new European history teacher, Dr. Dan Allen, was a boring government bureaucrat with a funny accent. But Leahy learned quite a lesson as Dr. Allen—who’d overheard the complaints —dismantled every presumption Leahy made, in the next class and over the course of the year.

Professor of the Year Dr. Christopher Leahy, right, with President Díaz-Herrera.

An embarrassed Leahy was surprised to learn that Dr. Allen had a background in military intelligence with the U.S. Air Force, and spent four years working as the American embassy’s military expert in Czechoslovakia. Further, Dr. Allen was a friend of Dr. Jeane Kirkpatrick, the Georgetown University professor who helped shape American policy during the Cold War as Pres. Ronald Reagan’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Dr. Allen eventually became one of Leahy’s favorite teachers and inspired him to pursue a doctorate of his own.

Dr. Leahy closed with a 1910 quote from President Theodore Roosevelt that advocates credit be given to the individual who “strives valiantly,” in spite of coming short, “spends himself in a worthy cause;” and who ultimately experiences either the enthusiasms and devotions of high achievement or who “at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.’”

Brief remarks to welcome new students were also shared Tuesday by College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera and Alan Ziegler, vice-chair of the Board of Trustees. The president encouraged students that the College will prepare them for the journey of their professional life, particularly through developing individuals who know how to apply digital technology within the context of their respective professions. The College’s Digital [email protected] College ([email protected]) initiative includes a digital studies minor and incorporates digital literacy throughout the curriculum.

“My advice to you, Class of 2019, is to learn as much about this as you can. Learn to read and write code, the new literacy,” Dr. Díaz-Herrera challenged, posing questions aspects of [email protected] could answer within a number of academic majors. “You will learn that you have the power to do amazing things. When you graduate from Keuka College you will have that thread of digital literacy woven through all aspects of your education.”

Click here for more photos from Academic Convocation

I Want to be Elected!

Rocker Alice Cooper proclaimed those words in his 1970s hit Elected.

Some 40 years later, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are saying the same thing–in many ways to many people because the 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be one of the closest in history.

Given the expected razor-thin margin of victory that Obama or Romney will come away with Nov. 6, a lot of attention has been focused on 270: the number of electoral votes needed to win the White House.

Some people have called for abolishing the Electoral College and having the popular vote determine the election. Other contend it is the fairest way to elect the president.

Chris Leahy, associate professor of history, has been tracking the swing states, electoral votes, and other issues surrounding the Obama vs. Romney race. In this interview with Executive Director of Communications Doug Lippincott, aired recently on WFLR in Dundee, Leahy discusses the history of the Electoral College, previous close races, the possibility of an electoral vote tie, the chances of the popular vote winner losing the electoral vote, and more.

Listen to the Show

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About Keuka College Today

Keuka College Today airs the fourth Thursday of every month from 8:30 – 9 a.m. on WFLR (1570 AM and 96.9 FM).