Occupy protesters vary on voting
By Chua Chin Hon, The Straits Times/Asia News NetworkWill their growing voice on the emotional issue of inequality help change the mind of undecided and independent voters? Or will they fuel the public's growing antipathy towards the governing elite, and prompt large number of voters to sit out the upcoming election?
January 10, 2012, 11:55 am TWN
Occupy protesters themselves are split on this issue. Some say they are so disgusted with the current state of U.S. politics that they are likely to boycott the election.
“Voting to me means little to nothing,” said Cordano. “When the whole system is bought, owned and scripted by corporate America, then voting doesn't mean anything. There is no difference between the political candidates ... what we need to do is change the political system.”
However, others like Bob Moore, 54, a science teacher who traveled to Manchester to join the “Occupy the New Hampshire primary” protests this weekend, said they will still vote because the electoral system is the only way they have to effect change in government.
“I will continue to vote ... but I'd think twice about whether the candidate represents me and my interests or the financial interests of big business,” he said.
A candidate who speaks for the “99 percent,” however, has proved elusive. Many Occupy members say they have become disillusioned with President Barack Obama, but cannot imagine voting for any of the Republican presidential contenders either.
This could swell the ranks of undecided voters or result in a significantly lower turnout in November — a source of worry for the Obama campaign, which won the 2008 election in large parts by enlarging the electorate.
Obama has tried to tack towards the Occupy movement in recent months by adopting some of its language on economic inequality, and speaking out more frequently about the plight of the middle class. But Occupy protesters say none of his remarks has struck a chord with them so far.
“Nothing he has said recently has done anything for me,” said Autumn Kent, 32, a receptionist and member of the Occupy movement in Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire.
She voted for Obama in 2008 but is uncertain about whether she will support him again.
Asked what it would take for the Obama campaign to win her back, Kent paused and said: “I don't know. It's hard when you feel so strongly for someone and he loses your trust. It's hard to win back that trust.”