Nick Danby: Maine’s youngest political activist

BY RAMONA DU HOUX

December 11th, 2011

alt
Nick Danby,on the left, helped give out awards at the first annual Kennedy dinner in Orono. One honor went to former Governor John Ellias Baldacci for all his years of public service - since he was 23. photo by Ramona du Houx

Some will recognize Nick from giving a speech introducing Pat McGowan as his nominee at the Democratic Convention in Augusta in 2010. McGowan admitted truthfully that Nick was a hard act to follow. Confident in his delivery and full of natural charm, the young man stole the hearts of many watching. Nick is also an aspiring actor and the son of Bangor’s cartoonist for the Bangor Daily News.

How did you get involved in being a Democratic activist?

I have always been interested in politics. Since my father was and still is the political cartoonist for the Bangor Daily News, I feel that his impact on me was great. I remember one day he brought home a poster of all the presidents up to George W. Bush; I was quite fascinated by it and I took it upon myself to memorize every single president in order in which they served. I did memorize them all by the age of about 4. Since the presidential system is directly effected by politics, I became fascinated with the political systems and issues. During the 2004 election, when I was 6, I began studying all the issues that faced our country, and I agreed more with Senator John Kerry than President George Bush after watching the debates. From then on I was aligned with the Democratic Party. I helped out with the 2006 election, with getting Governor Baldacci elected, and I continued to help out during the 2008 election. When the 2010 election began, after watching a debate at Husson College, I felt the best Democratic candidate was Pat McGowan. I volunteered to work for him and began making phone calls, canvassing, and putting up lawn signs.

How is your acting career coming?

I’m glad you asked that; it’s been going fantastic! I think the best decision I ever made in my life so far was signing up for Next Generation Theater in Brewer, Maine, which is strictly for kids. I have done over seven plays there and because of that I was asked to be a part of Penobscot Theater in Bangor. From late March to mid April, I played in the legendary play To Kill a Mockingbird as Jeremy Finch (Scout’s brother); it was a great learning curve, and I enjoyed ever moment of it. Right before To Kill a Mockingbird ended, I heard Penobscot was going to put on A Christmas Story in the play version. I loved the movie when I first saw it three years ago, and I was adamant on getting the part of Ralphie Parker. I auditioned in July, and to my surprise and joy I received the part. Rehearsal began a few weeks ago, and the show will open on December 2nd and close on December 23rd. So far, it has already been a great experience, and I believe because of the great cast and wonderful director we have the show will be amazing.

Who in the political world has inspired you?

That’s definitely a tough question, because so many people have inspired me. I think really the first politician to inspire me was Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I think for a person to come into office during the world economic downfall in America’s history and over the span of 12 years pull us out of it is amazing and takes extreme leadership qualities and ideas to accomplish such a task. Besides him, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster have influenced me greatly. Besides famous politicians, the people who I work with every day in the political field have inspired the most. Staffers who devote their entire soul to their candidate and party and never give up until the results are in for the election.

How do you think more young people can get engaged, as you do, in politics?

alt
Nick Danby,on the left, helped give out awards at the first annual Kennedy dinner in Orono. Gov. Baldacci thanks him for his service. photo by Ramona du Houx

I think if kids my age actually researched about our political system and presidents, instead of playing video games, they would learn that it’s not “boring” or “stupid,” as some people in my school say. They would learn it’s a fascinating and amazing system that has been around since the beginning of civilizations. If people gave politics a chance to study or observe, I believe that they can become fascinated, like I did when I was younger, and begin supporting candidates who match their beliefs.

Why do you think it is important to be an activist?

I think being an activist, is one of the most important obligations everyone should obtain when they become an adult. In America we have a voice. We can elect someone out we don’t want in office, and we can elect someone with our ideas and policies. Many people take this for granted, but this is an important right. We get to control where our country is heading, and if we realize this amazing right, I think people will realize its important to be an activist and be involved in the issues and campaigns that your country is facing.

Have you done anything at your local school in politics?

That’s a good question, but I feel an embarrassing one for me. Even though I am tightly involved in politics and being an activist, I can say I have not been involved in politics in my middle school, mainly because there are no groups to discuss politics or to be a part in it; which I think is disappointing, but it makes sense, since most of the people in my school just care about going home to play video games. But to answer the question I have not, I did gather people for our newly created debate club, which is going extremely well, but I have not suggested an idea for an all-politics club, yet.

What else to you like to do with your time?

I like to do a lot of things with my time, actually. I like to play tennis, basketball, and a few other sports. I also, as you know, like to act, and I love to read and write. Actually, right now, for a little more than a month I have been working on a full-fledged biography of Martin Van Buren, whether it will get published or not I don’t know, but I’m learning a lot about America’s creator of the two-party system and eighth president of the United States.

What changes do you think Democrats in Maine need to make to strengthen their presence in elections?

I think the strategy that Democrats always carry out works very well. The only thing I believe the Democrat’s should change is to be more energized. I’ve worked with a few people in the Maine Democratic Party circle who are so dedicated and energized it’s unbelievable. They will do everything for their candidate and Party. We need to have more workers and volunteers like that — people who are energized for their candidates because of their ideals and beliefs that they both share.