Social Media Means More Opportunities for Young People in Politics, says Cameron Kilberg ’98
Cameron Kilberg ’98 remembers sticking stamps on envelopes for her mother and past Potomac Board Member Bobbie’s 1993 lieutenant governor campaign. Not long ago, grassroots politics meant mailing flyers, making phone calls and knocking on doors. Today, says Cameron, it’s more about knocking on computer screens.
Although her mom didn’t make it to the Virginia governor’s office in 1993, almost 20 years later Cameron did. She is the Assistant Secretary of Technology for Governor Bob McDonnell at a time when Virginia’s technology sector is booming. The state boasts the highest percentage of technology workers in the country, with $58.4 billion in tech-related economic output. “It’s not just farming anymore,” quips Cameron, who is working to make Virginia’s tech sector even stronger, particularly in the realm of cyber security.
Previously a lawyer for Patton Boggs, Cameron has worked on several political campaigns, including John McCain’s 2008 presidential run. In her experience, door-to-door foot soldiers are no longer the only players in the political ground game. Now social media mavens are mobilizing and identifying supporters, and that’s where young people come in. “There’s still that gap between some older candidates and the younger generation, in terms of technology,” says Cameron. “[Politicians] really do look for younger people to tell them about the next big thing in social media and to help them engage younger voters.”
Whether or not they’re social media experts, young people can get their start in politics by volunteering for a campaign. Cameron says it’s particularly useful to start with a politician you know. If you’re a Potomac student or alum, chances are you already know several.
“Growing up at Potomac and living in McLean, I knew tons of parents who were involved in politics, whether they were grassroots level or senators, congressmen and judges.” Cameron remembers taking field trips to Capitol Hill and visiting the Supreme Court when Kenneth Starr, father of classmate Carolyn Starr Doolittle ’98, was arguing cases there. “It’s those kinds of experiences you won’t find many other places.”