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. Big_D

    The O W S want a C O N S T I T U T I O N A L A M E N D M E N T to ban all corporate money from elections. This is the central message until the censors blank my comments. This is my fifth post and they have blocked all but one. That is how threatened corporate America is over OWS. They don't want Americans to control their own elections. They own all the politicians on BOTH sides.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. j

    "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."

    What about government of the people and by the people. What happens after we do "some pretty good things" with "all that income of the 1%" and have no one left to over tax? The other 99% of us need to help ourselves and each other. Don't ask for help from the government, be the government. Living in a park doesn't help anyone. "Changing the status quo" is pointless without a clear direction for that change.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. S4LK1N

    people are taking this debate way to far. people want to work and they cant find it. success will come when the government quits kissing foreign countries butts and end free trade. i want american products and china's products to cost the same. this will not be fixed until the government tells corporations that they no longer can pay someone over seas 50 cents an hour to make something and then sell it here for 10000% mark up. that wont happen since our senators and reps take money from these corporations. in order to change that we need our governing figures in washington to pass a law that prevents them from taking free money. greed is so woven into our system that we cant get rid of it.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Proud Member of the 53% and Not a 1% Tool

    The GOP trolls you see on these boards 24x7x365 are paid by the Koch brothers lobby.

    Rumor has it they're inmates. The perfect tools for the 1%. :) ;)

    October 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • citizen

      Did you get your Soros paycheck already?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stormy miller

    what do you mean "rednecks usually win"? the last time i checked the north won the civil war.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. scott

    Question: how much money do you need to earn to be in the 1%.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. citizen

    You are right on the money.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. munkittrick

    One clear objective would be the end of this idiocy.
    http://money.cnn.com/2011/10/31/news/companies/nabors_ceo_bonus/index.htm?hpt=hp_t2

    Corporate boardrooms who created this kind of cyclical environment are making it impossible for others to succeed, even reasonably. When the cash payouts make their way to one person's pocket but not into the pockets of he people who actually work for the money, it creates resentment and fortifies middle-class American anguish.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard Pichard

      It creates more than resentment – it is short circuiting what makes a viable economy. Working people need to make enough to adequately survive and consume.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. descarado

    Eradicate the government cheesers. Eliminate the 47%.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedUpPeriod

      Absolutely! Companies like BOA and Citigroup that pay no federal taxes yet are allowed to collect BILLIONS in "refunds' paid for by We the People must Go!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Proud Member of the 53% and Not a 1% Tool

    The GOP trolls you see on these boards 24x7x365 are paid by the Koch brothers lobby. ;)

    Rumor has it they're inmates. :)

    October 31, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOlreallynow

      I guess you missed the news article on the fact that ACORN was paying people to post pro-OWS comments?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aces Full

      The Far Left trolls you see on these boards 24x7x365 are paid by Soros :-)

      Rumor has it they believe Communism is a good thing.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Proud Member of the 53% and Not a 1% Tool

      Another Fox con job. Cool.

      Ye Posers for the 1%.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelcey

      Seriously? You are a troller. ACORN went out of business so it is doubtful they are paying anyone. You however are being paid for by Koch Brothers or one of their subsidiaries.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOlreallynow

      Acorn is still aorund. Its top founders have donated plenty. Perhaps you can use a search engine?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. citizen

    If not for the media's props for oWS/Teat party they would just disappear.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Proud Member of the 53% and Not a 1% Tool

    I've donated to occupywallstreet(dot)org and it felt good. Almost as good as donating to the Colbert Nation Super PAC. :) :)

    October 31, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveGuy

      FLUSHHHHHHH–there is the sound of your money!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Big_D

    I support OWS and I am in the 53% that pay taxes. I think we need all corporate money out of elections. I also think lobbying wastes over half of our tax dollars before they leave Washington. BOTH NEED TO GO!

    October 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOlreallynow

      So who would pay for election funds? You? Perhaps they should waste more tax payer money to pay for every fool that wishes to run for office?

      October 31, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MK54

    There isn't as much opportunity in America as there used to be, but it is still out there for those who take responsibility for their own fate and are willing to work at whatever they can. OWS surely is serving to point out flaws in our economic system, but I think the protesters would be better served to look inside to see how they can improve themselves. It is better to light one candle than tp curse the darkness. If others would do the same we could light the world.

    October 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • ObjectiveGuy

      Right on, brother!

      October 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • LOlreallynow

      Nice to see someone with common sense posting.

      October 31, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scamerica

    *** BILL MAHER 2012 ***

    October 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
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