Story posted November 28, 2012
National media likes to point out that in this campaign cycle, President Barack Obama has lost much of the impassioned support from young people he so famously captured in 2008. But for at least one Bowdoin student, Obama still holds plenty of appeal and promise.
Up to Election Day, Chelsea Gold ’13 plans to devote four days a week, once a month, to Obama’s campaign. By scheduling her classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, Gold has freed up the rest of the week to work out of a field office in Salem, N.H., a Republican-leaning community.
In New Hampshire, Gold makes phone calls and canvases homes, urging people to vote for Obama. She typically logs 10- to 12-hour days, all unpaid. A fellow campaign volunteer has offered her a room to stay in for free.
“I really would like to get the president reelected,” Gold said. “I can genuinely state that the country is in a better position now than four years ago.”
Gold points out that in the last 29 months, the job numbers have continuously increased, and that Obama has also doubled funding for Pell Grants, ended the war in Iraq and is supportive of women’s right to choose and earn equal pay. “These are all things I can speak to,” Gold said. She adds that she’s also been inspired by some of the volunteers in Salem whose lives have been positively impacted by Obama’s policies.
This summer, Gold worked as a campaign fellow in the Salem headquarters, and grew close to several of the volunteers, particularly a woman who has multiple sclerosis in remission, and who depends on government-subsidized healthcare. “She comes in every week” to canvas door to door, Gold said.
Gold does acknowledge that four years after electing Obama, it’s harder now to inspire young voters, which she thinks is partly because the current message has to be based on political realities rather than idealism. “What we’re doing now is defending his record,” she said. “It’s a lot easier to preach hope and change and promises.”
Judah Isseroff, co-president of the Bowdoin College Democrats, also points out that the racial barrier is not being broken this time around. He said that students in 2008 were motivated to put an African-American into the White House for the first time.
Gold, who is not a member of the Bowdoin Democrats, says she’s not planning to work in Maine — which she believes is likely to back Obama — and that she isn’t politically active on campus. However, on a “personal level” she does try to persuade students here to vote and to vote for Obama.
“I engage in political conversations with friends and friends of friends,” she said. She also likes talking to Republican students, she said, partly because it forces her to clarify and research her positions.
Politics is not a new passion of Gold’s. She grew up in Washington D.C., and as a young girl was handing out bumper stickers and putting up lawn signs with her parents, both staunch Democrats. Her father is an environmental lobbyist; her mother is an artist. Gold’s sister, a junior at Brown, is president of that university’s student Democrat group.
Before her work on Obama’s campaign, Gold had already built up a politics-heavy resume. She has interned for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland. She was also an intern for the White House Council on Environmental Quality and for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, both in Washington D.C.
Gold is majoring in government and legal studies, and is getting ready to apply to law school. While she’s not sure what career she’ll end up pursuing, she says that she admires her father’s work. “It would be really cool to do something like that, and to make a tangible, visible impact on policy,” she said.