Archive for Thursday, August 12, 2004

Campaign trail has proven to be a thrill

August 12, 2004

Presidential campaigns always draw the interest of Americans every four years. So called "off-year" elections show that dramatically with the decline in the number of voters.

This year's Presidential election is certainly no exception. Whether that's the candidates involved, the war in Iraq or the lingering questions left by the last election's some-what contested outcome, the nation seems plenty interested in the contest between George W. Bush and John Kerry.

Of course, I've always been fascinated by Presidential elections for whatever reason. But, this one has been extra special because of a very close connection to someone who has been on the front lines of the campaign battles.

My oldest son, Brett, has had the unbelievable opportunity to take part in the Democratic campaign. For a political science/history/pre-law major, it just doesn't get better than to be able to take part in such a monumental effort.

Best of all, Brett's been able to do his part while still being home in Baldwin City from Drake University this summer. He's mostly worked out of the Kansas City, Mo., Democratic headquarters, which has also taught him another life-lesson. That would be all the nuances of being a commuter.

While he's probably spent the majority of his time at headquarters, there's been plenty of time used right here in Baldwin, as well as road trip work in Des Moines, Iowa, and, most recently, Knoxville, Tenn.

His "Baldwin time" has consisted of various projects, but the one that I found most interesting was an on-going letter-to-the-editor campaign to newspapers all over the country. He's had letters published in the Kansas City Star, Des Moines Register, several Tennessee papers and numerous others around the country. Although he's tried very hard, as of yet he hasn't cracked one of his "goal" papers so far this summer. The New York Times gets thousands of letters to the editor every week and, so far, Brett Myrick from Baldwin City, Kan., hasn't quite piqued the interest of editors there. But, he keeps trying.

While that interests his editor father, I'll have to admit that probably the biggest project of the summer for him was when Kerry had a speaking engagement in Independence, Mo., in June. He worked hand-in-hand with Kerry's advance team for days getting every detail in place. That meant plenty of phone work and my favorite part of that resulted from the limited seating for the appearance at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. Brett had to call Senators and other various dignitaries and tell them they couldn't bring their spouses. Not bad for a 20-year-old, huh?

That started the summer off with a bang on the campaign trail. It also began my education on the inner-sanctum of campaign strategy, including Brett's own theories. One of the first questions I asked him when he got back from the KC Kerry appearance was whether he had shaken his hand or gotten his picture taken with him. He just said, "no, I've got a theory on that."

Well, of course, I asked him what that was. He explained that he didn't want to take the place of someone else whose vote was still up in the air and might be swayed to the Kerry camp by a handshake or a photo. I found that interesting. I didn't tell him that maybe my vote would be swayed if I had a picture of my son with the Presidential candidate.

Brett got another life lesson with his trip to Tennessee. I'd told him for years that the south was a whole other country. He got to see that first hand. But, why Tennessee? Well, without the Volunteer State, this whole experience wouldn't have happened. My brother, Tim, and his wife, Teresa, have lived near Oakridge, Tenn., since he got out of graduate school. If you know what Oakridge is, you might have already guessed he's a nuclear engineer. They funded Brett's excellent summer adventure, paying him a salary for what is normally a volunteer job. It was such a tremendous opportunity and we'll never be able to thank them enough.

Brett got back Friday, just in time for the Kerry-Edwards non-stop train trip through Lawrence and the subsequent make-up return visit Sunday by Edwards and his wife. Brett's take on the Lawrence situation?

"The train mix up was just a predictable calamity in a campaign," Brett said. "I think it shows that they really do care about people to send Edwards and family back when Kansas isn't close to a swing state and that valuable time and resources were spent on it anyway."

Wow. I don't know about you, but that sounds like a campaign veteran and budding politician to me. That's my boy and this is a summer that will never be forgotten.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.