Still Occupying: Discontent with Obama fills OWS

Dan Shockley, 37, from East Harlem wears a pin criticizing the two-party system. Photo by Alex Jung.

Ahead of the November presidential elections, protestors gathered for a day of action Monday morning in Manhattan’s Financial District in an attempt to re-energize a movement that has flagged since the spring and voice their discontent with an Obama administration that has done little to deliver on the promise of his 2008 campaign.

“From a conservative point of view, people lump liberals, Democrats, Occupy, and Obama,” said Sally Jane Kerschen-Sheppard, 34, from Inwood. “Occupiers would not lump themselves into those categories.”

“Occupy is just as disenchanted with Obama as they are with the Republican Party,” she said.

Many protestors admitted part of the reason why they joined the Occupy movement was because they were beginning to feel disillusioned after four years of the Obama administration.

“I was an Obama supporter,” said Dan Shockley, 37, from East Harlem as he moved a massive cloth boulder filled with a paper, a symbol of the debt that saddles people.

“I’m very unhappy with him, especially on issues of privacy, civil rights, and military detentions,” he said. “He’s taken everything from the Bush era and continued it.”

For many protestors, they perceive little difference between President Obama and his Republican challenger, former Mass. Governor, Mitt Romney.

“Choosing between Obama and Romney is like choosing between Coke and Pepsi,” said Susan Rubin, 52, a mother of three who came down from Chappaqua, New York. “I want to choose water.”

Many Occupy protestors are also looking to voice their discontent at the ballot box.

“We thought things were really going to change,” said Theresa Lee, 53, from Washington Heights. “We thought there was going to be equity of wealth—not this disparity.”

“I’m voting for a third party candidate, the Green Party, probably,” she said. “Somebody has to move the Democratic Party. Someone has to pull [Obama] to the left, otherwise, this is what we’re stuck with.”

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaks to reporters in front of the National Museum of the American Indian at Occupy Wall Street. Photo by Alex Jung.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein spoke in front of the National Museum of the American Indian on the south side of Bowling Green.

“My campaign and the Green party and other small progressive parties represent real independent-people-powered politics,” Stein said. “My campaign is the only voice for that people-powered politics in the presidential election.”

Many see Stein’s presidential run as an important mechanism for keeping certain issues like poverty, predatory lending practices, and soaring student debt in the national conversation.

“There’s more than one way of winning an election,” said Dr. Stein. “We can also win an election by winning the day—driving these issues forward, getting into the debate, changing the debate, and really challenging power.”

Others though, are still worried about what a vote for Stein or another third party candidate would do for the fortunes of Romney.

“Every time I think about voting for a third party, I have that Nader flashback from 2000,” said Kerschen-Sheppard.

“I’m not thrilled with Obama, but my hands are tied,” said Danielle Abrams, 44, an adjunct professor at CUNY from Kensington, Brooklyn.

“At this point, it’s the only way out,” she said. “A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Romney.”