How do you measure success for Occupy Wall Street movement?
Occupy Wall Street protesters hold up signs showing their frustration with the current economic situation.
October 31st, 2011
01:05 PM ET

How do you measure success for Occupy Wall Street movement?

There's no easy way to define Occupy Wall Street. That's part of what's made it hard for the media and those involved in the protests to wrap their arms around the movement.

Many people have questioned the movement's legitimacy, since it has no clear leadership,  nor a clear list of demands or solutions to the economic inequalities it rails against.

It also raises endgame questions.

What would it actually take to say, yes, this movement of protest, spurred by a large group of people across the country and world, was a successful movement? Or is it too early to even assess what impact it may have had?

Would success need to come in the form of large reforms being passed regarding jobs, unemployment and economic policies that affect Wall Street  or even of President Obama losing re-election? Would it be adjustment of our current government model to one that more accurately reflects what protesters want?

Jeffrey D. Sachs, an expert in economics, visited the Occupy Wall Street crowd in New York's Zuccotti Park early in October and suggested that success could come in the form of a change in what groups politicians look to for influence (hint: not the 1% that can shell out money for dinners with the politicians). He also said the protesters needed to elect a government that will represent the 99%.

"What are we going to do when we get it? We are going to re-establish government for the people. The people need help and the government is there to help. So with all that income of the 1%, there's some pretty good things to do."

Sachs suggests that the 99% could make a lot of changes with the money of the 1% including spreading the wealth to close the financial equality gap, while taxing the rich in order to use the money to fix our struggling economy as well as bringing our troops home.

Some have suggested you wouldn't need a re-established government or new policies as a whole to be a success – just a defeat for Obama.

Jonah Goldberg, an American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow, wrote for the National Review about the Occupy Wall Street movement's potential to have political success like the tea party:

"There's only one way the Occupy Wall Street movement can become like the tea parties, and that’s for Barack Obama to lose in 2012. Why? Because Obama is the most divisive figure in American politics today. ...

If Occupy Wall Street is a sincere, organic, grassroots movement for radical change and overturning the status quo, it can’t be 100 percent behind the guy who’s been running the country for the last three years.

Moreover, Democrats had near total control of the government for Obama’s first two years. Together, Obama and congressional Democrats already got their Wall Street and student-loan reforms, their health-care overhaul, and a huge stimulus. And yet Occupy Wall Street is still furious with the political status quo. Does anyone believe Obama can both run on his record and co-opt the Occupy Wall Streeters?"

Joseph Lazzaro, the U.S. editor at the International Business Times, notes that while some on the right may believe unseating Obama is the key to ending the movement, it won't end what jump-started the movement.

"Tea party supporters, and other conservatives, argue that if only President Barack Obama is defeated, or more Republicans are elected to Congress (and more Democrats voted out of Congress) or more unions are broken up, that will be the end of Occupy Wall Street, and the nation's economic and social problems.

 In sum, the U.S.'s economic and social problems are there, Occupy Wall Street headlines or not."

NPR dedicated a segment to asking people what they felt would spell success for the movement. One listener suggested it would come in the form of presenting the movement's own political candidates and a voting bloc. Another suggested success was simply about raising greater awareness and continuing the path the movement is on. Others suggested that it meant specific reform in campaign finance laws and bankruptcy regulations.

So, you've got passing reform, ousting the leader of our country, and engagement in the political process as options. But is a defined, significant goal like that the only way to measure success? Does it depend on whether the Occupy protesters can literally weather the cold fronts that are upon them? Or is it possible you could already call the movement a winner because it has invigorated a group of people, who may not have been politically active before, to stand up and say they are unhappy with the status quo?

Don McNay, the author of "Wealth Without Wall Street: A Main Street Guide to Making Money" wrote for the Huffington Post that the movement has allowed that group and the silent majority that supports it to have a wider voice in the public discourse.

"The days of clamping down free speech with violence are over. The average citizen, using social media, has too many ways to communicate, organize and stand up to oppression.

I think it will be difficult for the Occupy movement to maintain its outdoor protests through the cold winter months, but I expect the seeds of their protest to have an impact for years.

Already, they have had an immediate victory."

While we may not know, or be able to really put into words, what a finish line looks like for the Occupy movement, there are a few things that can give us some insight on how its ideas are entering the national dialogue.  Google took the time to dedicate a blog post to looking at what search terms might tell us about the movement's impact.

"Search interest for (Occupy Wall Street) jumped ahead of the (tea party) on September 24, and hasn’t looked back. In a historical context, when viewing the snapshot of their nascent birth, we can see the peak of (Occupy Wall Street) has slightly more interest in American than searches for the (tea party) did during the groups peak in 2009."

So what would success for the movement look like to you? Do you think there is a finish line in sight? Let us know your thoughts below.


Filed under: Occupy Wall Street • Politics
soundoff (2,280 Responses)
  1. Dayana

    hi i am doing a project on the Occupy Wall Street Movement and I what i need help understanding is that what will this movement lead for the future?

    November 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • GinnyL

      Huh? I hope you edit your report better than you edited your post. As for the future? That's in your hands.

      November 3, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. tp

    "Oakland Mayor Jean Quan apologized for authorities' confrontations with demonstrators."

    What a putz. No wonder California is a cesspool.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teapartypeople

      I dont think they call it california any more, I believe it's occupied mexico. They dont even speak english anymore. well it is the second or is it the third language? I dont know I just live here.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. donna

    My teacher sad she's glad the unions are taking control over OWS. There about protecting the wokers. I think the unions make them look stupid. OWS is about fighting the banks, but they get bussed around like animals to werever the union needs there picketers. Yeah, I guess they feel pretty stupid now, but it's better to have a goal than not.

    November 3, 2011 at 1:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Education Education

      Have your teachers ever taught you how to think for yourself or are they just making a good little disposable robot.

      November 3, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. charles

    The occupy camp outs could be considered successful if measures are enacted that actually have an impact on everyday life. A jobs bill, real healthcare reform with single payer, a full withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and end to military adventures in Africa, and a redirection of that energy toward infrastructure, and green economy. In addition, legislation which eases the ability of unions to organize, ends private funding for elections, and restores regulatory oversight to the banking system. Student loans and privatization of education is another issue of concern. action on the part of whomever would diminish the appeal of street protests.

    November 3, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. common sense

    Federal campaign finance reform and congressional term limits amendments initiated by a states' convention. And in this technological age having such a convention would possible.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Tom Ulcak

    The author is clueless. OWS has just begun and has already changed the questions being asked by the media. It has cause the Oakland port to close and disrupted banks. OWS has spread across the world. OWS will bring the existing corrupt and unethical system down and it will be replaced with a new democratic economic system where the people are THE voice in making economic decisions. The beginning is near.

    November 3, 2011 at 7:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Teapartypeople

      So your going to heart people or as you call us the 99% to show them!!!! Don't help us please! Your showing them is killing us. Thanks for all the help. Go home.

      November 18, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. minnesota

    Why can some of these comments be replied to and some cannot. CNN bias as usual.

    November 3, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Education Education

      You replace skilled workers with cheap labor, what do you expect? Sometimes you get what you pay for, if you are lucky!

      November 3, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carl Schoelkopf

    Liberals are their own worst enemy,. They are "short-distance" runners. The "Occupy" movement will fizzel this Winter.
    Progressives should take a lesson from the "Tea Party," the radical right.,, carry guns, the threat of violence...this is what gets attention. Otherwise, the economic "class warfare" will continue. I predict it will. The "rightys" have balls of brass.

    November 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. BorisH

    How do you measure Occupy success? By how quickly they go home.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Bill Wrenn

    the 99% need to focus on BOA until they fold to demonstrate their united strength before taking on the strong-arm tactics of our cities – otherwise the Fed will continue to allow Bank of America to put taxpayers on the hook – need to put a stop to our corrupt government who decides the "can't fail" corporations over the people

    November 19, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Sharyn

    You want solutions – try preventive maintenance.
    There are so many issues that can be resolved by using critical thinking skills and going to root cause.
    I can cite so many examples, you would not want to spend time reading them, but here are a few.
    $944 billion dollars lost because of dropouts. Get the American people, experts on education economists on a television program, and let's figure out a sane, inexpensive way to fix this. While it may cost up front, think of savings in lost wages of these folks, welfare benefits, those who become incarcerated.

    Unemployment – first begin by giving jobs to all unemployed and retired teachers. Get them into the classroom to help teachers with special needs children and cut down on their long days at work. Use television to broadcast great teachers for both teachers and student to gain knowledge. Require welfare recipients to attend parenting classes. Teach how important the first few years are of a child's life and the need for nurturing.

    Unemployment – build our infrastructure. Hire unemployed workers to build resources that can increase jobs and production.

    Do everything we can to stop corporations from sending production overseas?

    On and on and on. We have really smart people in this country. We need to bring our great minds together, and then discuss these issues with the American people. A program like American Idol ox X Factor will give us a chance to have our voices heard. Then, if Congressmen vote against our wishes, at least it will be easier to hold them accountable.

    November 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Jimmy Childs

    Critical thinking will eventually lead the dissatisfied 99% to the solution for their issues: CONGRESS. When the current movement shifts to Occupy Congress, it will become a million person march on Congress. Congress has been ruled for 30 years by an army of 25,000 lobbyists slipping BILLIONS of dollars into campaign coffers for professional politicians. Most often now they use "Friends of....." groups to funnel the money untrackably to politicians. The wealthy and corporate control our congress. Nothing significant will change until money is taken out of the political process. OWS will shift into Occupy Congress.

    November 21, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Alex

    The goverment is stupid... Abortion is legal whats illegal is marijuana. JOKE!!!!

    January 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jghostboy

    If it was such a big success then why are they still stealing our money?

    August 1, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse | Reply
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