Barack Obama spoke to more than 80,000 people on the final day of the DNC. photo by Joeff Davis KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, creates innovative television that inspires and educates. KLRU-produced programs that air statewide on Texas PBS stations include Central Texas Gardener, Texas Monthly Talks and The Biscuit Brothers. Check your local listings. kiru tv and beyond klru.org At the first Obama house party Flowers attended in February 2008, Bastrop County Chair Mitzi VanSant asked if he was interested in being a precinct captain. “I don’t know if she asked because I was fresh blood or just young, but her asking that question got me thinking about what I can do,” he said. Flowers became a poll worker and spent a lot of time studying caucus rules. When the caucus rolled around on March 4, Flowers was among the few who knew what they were doing and established himself as a leader among local voters. He was asked to be the Obama delegate to the county convention, where he was promoted to delegate to the state convention. “I didn’t want to fight people I’d been working with to get to state Flowers said after a quick interruption from his cell phonewhose ring tone was Obama’s 2004 keynote convention speech. “They chose me.” The example of Flowers may be the real legacy of the Obama campaign before Obama’s legacy as president even begins brought power back to the people and created new kinds of politicians who will have cut their teeth on grassroots organizing and community involvement, not at elite universities or competitive law firms. Akers, who works in food service sales, chuckled when asked about his political aspirations. “My wife might read this,” he said. “But I will tell you . . . this whole experience has got me thinking ‘Why not?”‘ Flowers, whose involvement in politics began only this year, is more forthright about his career plans. “There’s a 98 percent chance I will run for county commissioner of Precinct 4 in 2010,” Flowers said. He’s also been involved in talks about starting a Big Brothers Big Sisters branch in Bastrop County “There’s not a lot to do [in Elgin],” Flowers said. “You’ve got to walk four miles to get to town, and Flowers said. “Look for me to do things for the youth in Bastrop County, one way or another:’ There are countless potential sources of inspiration at a national conventionmoving speeches, historic momentum, common denominators among the people attending. But the one thing that will carry on long after the final ballot is placed November 4 will be the new breed of American that Obama has motivated. Politicians like Austin state Rep. Mark Strama have noticed the newcomers to politics and follow their paths carefully. Strama, who endorsed Obama early in 2007, recalled the rally on Austin’s Auditorium Shores in February of that year, when roughly 25,000 people showed up to hear Obama. “It’s not about Obama,” Strama said. “It’s about the people he inspires. That’s who I endorsed:’ Asked if he thought the involvement of new, impassioned people would help change the way politics works in Texas and in Washington, Strama said, “I hope so. There’s that word again. Native Austinite and activist Rachel Farris writes at www.meanrachel.com , a progressive politics blog. SEPTEMBER 19, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31
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