Sidney Ginsberg is a 22-year-old recent graduate of Dartmouth College. A native of New York, she lives in San Francisco, working as an unpaid intern. She stresses to me she’s “not a political person” but she came to her first Democratic National Convention anyway because she wants to support her friend, who works for the Obama campaign. That’s dedication; the distance to Charlotte is more than 2,700 miles.
Ginsberg voted for Barack Obama in 2008, and she admits that like a lot of young people, she felt taken in by the moment. “I think a lot of people voted in 2008 because it was trendy,” Ginsberg says. The new trend, though, is political disaffection. Most young people aren’t into the election like they were four years ago. But is there a risk Obama 2008 voters might switch to Mitt Romney? Ginsberg laughs.
“Romney’s never going to be trendy,” she says. She doesn’t have any friends who are voting for the Republican, she adds. What about those of her peers without jobs, struggling in the current economy? Youth unemployment is higher than it’s ever been.
“Most of our friends are on the wealthy end,” she says.
Ginsberg doesn’t have one overarching reason she’ll be voting for Obama again. Is it the health care law, or the economic stimulus, or the president’s public support for gay marriage? She furrows her brow to think.
“I think it’s a combination,” Ginsberg says finally. “I agree with the whole platform.”
Judging by the reaction of Ginsberg and hundreds of others at Wednesday’s meeting of the DNC’s “youth council,” it may be that the Obama magic is still alive with young people. A short, slickly produced film at the beginning of the meeting demonstrates the fervor remains with the Obama faithful.
The movie opens with Edith S. Childs, the Greenwood, South Carolina, native chanting the Obama 2008 campaign chant she inspired: "Fired up, ready to go.”
The film intersperses an interview with Childs with clips of an Obama speech. Obama recounts speaking to a 20-person crowd in Greenwood early in his campaign when Childs began yelling the now-famous words. The room picked up the chant, and so did the Obama campaign. Soon, it became the unofficial mantra at Obama events.
The movie ends with a classic rhetorical pirouette from Obama’s 2008 speech, with the then-candidate reflecting on the power of words.
“If you can change a room, you can change a city,” Obama says. “If you can change a city, you can change a state. If you can change a state, you can change a nation.” But he doesn’t stop there. “And if you can change a nation, you can change the world.”
The crowd in the movie has been cheering, but at the last line, the young people in the ballroom in Charlotte that goes nuts. The roar from these young Democratic activists is deafening, and they soon break out in the chant.
“Fired up! Ready to Go! Fired up! Ready to go!”