I may give Mark Strama a hard time for his Google alerts and corny jokes, but even I have to admit that the Campaign Academy is not only a great idea, but a mutually-beneficial co-op that just makes sense. People of all ages and demographics -- from single moms to sophomores in high school and college, activists to gap-toothed elementary school children -- turned over their summer to sweat it out at the TCDP Headquarters and the streets of Austin, blockwalking and phonebanking for the Strama campaign. The icing on the cake for them was learning about the inner-workings of campaigns and getting to brush shoulders with the likes of Howard Dean and Christine Pelosi.
It was evident tonight that for all the jokes about free child labor and for as Tom Sawyerish as it may seem, the Campagin Academy pupils sincerely love what they are doing -- one-hundred degree weather notwithstanding. I was reminded of what James Carville said in The War Room: "Any time you can combine labor with love, you've made a merger." Clearly, Strama has capitalized on this, and who's to say whether his campaign or the volunteers themselves are benefiting more.
There was something sort of tender about the younger kids, particularly a seventh-grade girl who looked like she came from central casting for the role of a young Hillary Clinton -- or maybe just herself in her own biography in thirty years. I happened to notice her, long after the crowd had thinned out and most of the electeds had wilted and gone home, spinning dizzily in circles at the back of the yard. Grinning from ear to ear, a kid like that doesn't keep track of what the voter file says, and I'm sure if asked her opinion on a particular subject, she'd tell you exactly what she thought without a moment's hesitation about how it would make her look.
So to Mark Strama I say kudos, and go ahead, make those Obama-Strama jokes. Because as long as there are people who are climbing to the top, and reaching down behind them to pull up a young girl soaking in democracy on a stifling July evening, we'll get our change, eventually.