Occupy protesters vary on voting
By Chua Chin Hon, The Straits Times/Asia News NetworkMANCHESTER, New Hampshire -- It has no office or full-time staff, much less campaign fliers or bumper stickers.
January 10, 2012, 11:55 am TWN
Yet the Occupy movement, a loose but growing coalition of groups inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York, is rapidly making its presence felt in American presidential politics as the early nomination races get under way.
Last week in the heartland state of Iowa, where the first real contest between the Republican presidential hopefuls was waged, Occupy protesters targeted both the Democratic and Republican parties and staged “die-ins” at several campaign offices.
Nearly three dozen protesters were arrested, but that did not deter others from heckling Republican front-runner Mitt Romney at a subsequent rally on the outskirts of Des Moines, shouting “Stop the war on the poor!”
“Despite the few numbers that we had, we were able to get our concerns into the public airways for that one week because Iowa was the focus of the whole world's political media,” Frank Cordano, 60, a member of the Occupy Des Moines group, told The Straits Times.
“We hope others will see that and do the same.”
They certainly did. Over the weekend, Occupy protesters in the north-eastern state of New Hampshire staged noisy protests outside a university where the Republican presidential contenders had gathered for a debate two days before another critical nomination vote.
Protesters also held a mock funeral procession for the “American dream,” which they said had been destroyed by growing income equality and the unchecked political influence of the wealthiest 1 percent in the United States.
And as in Iowa, they also disrupted presidential hopefuls such as Texas lawmaker Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum with the now-famous chants of “We are the 99 percent.”
This pattern of protests is likely to shadow the presidential hopefuls every step of the way as they move on to South Carolina and Florida in the coming weeks.
But while the guerilla tactics have succeeded in drawing media attention and shifting the broader political conversation in the U.S., one big question remains unanswered: Will the movement actually affect voter behavior come election night on Nov. 6?