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. Herman Cain

    Any of you protester kids want to stop by my place, break in and meet Smith and Wesson?

    October 31, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Herman Cain

    Proud Member of the 53% and Not a 46% or 1% tool !

    October 31, 2011 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. middledocmom

    I don't think that Obama is a factor. He seems to be willing to compromise, will be pragmatic, won't get in the way. The real problem is with Congress. They just don't represent or respect the average American. I want the carreer politicians out. It is human nature to let power and money corrupt you. You have to steal yourself against it, make it your mantra. Fresh candidates can take the energy of this movement, get elected and effect change.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brie

      Now you are talking. The answer lies in Washington, DC and congress, not in the theater of Zuccotti Park.
      Are the OWSer's smart enough to realize that and organized enough to make the change!

      October 31, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Herman Cain

    Hey lets go TeaBag the 46% !!!! I am 53%!

    October 31, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. vince

    a new occupy event is being planned visit

    October 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brie

      Finally a little pragmatism and intelligence. Time to move away from the flash mob and camp out into the real world of effective protest for change.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scander Brown

    Here is a tangible goal:

    Can't make it down to the protests?
    Reach 700+ million people from home and do your part in a HUGE way:

    (Please post this around)

    October 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. SallinasPhil

    I support the Occupy movement, as do millions of Americans. The time is right to focus the movement on a primarily goal. Namely:

    Ending the Corruption that Money Brings to Politics

    Over 70% of Americans believe that our representatives in Washington don't represent us anymore. Instead, they know that they are owned by special interests. This issue is waiting to be adopted by the Occupy movement. If and when it is adopted, then this movement will grow exponentially and we will be able to change the corrupt system.

    The corruption that money brings to politics is a non-partisan issue. Millions of Americans on both the left and the right agree that this problem needs to be fixed. Let's make this the platform for the growth and success of this movement. Our country desperately needs this change. Let's do it.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdm0828

      Heres a crazy concept then, go protest at the white house!!!

      October 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeramieH

      And how exactly do you intend to achieve this? What's your list of actionable items?

      October 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brie

      Until you get folks out of Zuccotti Park and into Washington, DC you are not going to have a big impact. Washington is where the power is. That power may be influenced by Wall Street but if you want change, you have to make your presence known to the congress, show them there is a new player in town, maybe not as rich as Wall Street but supported by millions of voters. That will get their attention better than money.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WesternPA

    Occupy Success??? That's easy – media time.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Robert

    Bunch of aimless people looking for guidance. Reminds me of People's Park.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      haha everyone who leaves comments like you "Robert" I see and laugh. Such a general response because you just had to get your two cents in there but really have no idea what you're talking about. Unless you're a billionaire looking to bash these guys which I'm sure you're not. They want the money out of politics, if you read the article. Right now the government is worrying about taking care of the top 1% because that's who's buying them out. So the other 99% are left to fend for ourselves because these guys don't want to pay equal taxes or have to be on an equal playing field with the rest of us in anyway. Along with various other problems with our country that's one of the biggest ones, you and every other idiot should do your research before commenting on something you clearly don't know about but felt you had to chime in on.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SoCalPrince

    "...the 99% could make a lot of changes with the money of the 1%...." How does that work? In the end a very finite, small percent of the 99% would be making decisions about where the money of the 1% goes. Who chooses them and how??

    October 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AaronT3

    The success of OWS (America's Success) will come when ALL of those GOP Republican Tea Bag Koch Roaches are voted out of office. America overwhelming voted for President Obama and his vision (leaders need those), but the GOP Republican Tea Bag Koch Roaches have way-laid every move President Obama has made to move America toward the Perfect Union it can be. I'm glad banks can't arbitrarily raise credit card rates, charge repeated overdraft fee's for the same item, and children can stay on parents healthcare longer. President Obama had to overcome unimaginable and unprecedented obstacles just to get that done. Let's move America forward by moving the GOP Republican Tea Bag Koch Roaches out of the way!

    October 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Citizen Twain

      Obama did what his overlords told him to do. He had no intention of doing anything for you. He is a terrible President and had 2 years to do things but couldn't even manage to pass a budget. If he had, we would not be here today with the budget crisis. He should resign.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff, Chicago

      Aaron, you need to get your head out of the sand and stop watching MSNBC. Now finish watching Sesame Street before you go to school.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    For the People, by the People

    1) Campaign Finance Reform
    people only, $1,000 max per household

    2) Term Limits
    end the era of career politicians, 2 term max

    3) End Lobbying

    October 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Citizen Twain

      Implementing number 3 would solve the problem of corruption in our Government. They will never do that.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Swa4

      One of the objectives would be to address the fraud committed by banks, loan servicing agencies, fore closure attorneys in the economic disaster of the country. In the process of bail out of these criminals by the Government, hard working Americans have lost jobs, homes and life's savings. The carnage is going on everyday. The government has failed, the judges have failed to render justice. The "Occupy Wall Street" movement has to formulate a strategy by which they will need to force the government to act within a given time. Otherwise, the movement will turn really ugly and violence will ultimately errupt.

      October 31, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NASA Brat

    You the media tried to ignore the Occupy movement, then you tried to make fun of it, then you tried to create a boogie man and use the police to attack it now you’re trying to insult them by testing their resolve in bad weather. It seems your masters don’t want the sheep waking up and thinking for themselves or feeling that the pie needs to be shared.
    Congress, the banking system and Wall Street had better wake up. The unemployment figures are spun to understate the true problems and the system thinks we’re too stupid or disinterested to figure out that the haves and have nots are no longer separated by a wanna have middle class. That middles class buffer kept the All Star Wrestling crowd dumb and happy with reality TV and fast food, so they weren’t too active but now they can’t afford the cable bills, Netflix rate increases or even their 5 nights a week of drive thru death.
    This with any luck at all will continue and public awareness will happen through the social media opposed to the Rupert Murdoch’s, the talking heads of Congress or our friendly money lenders

    October 31, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Citizen Twain

    The Rich have always owned and controlled this Country. They let it ebb and flow so that we don't catch on to their undermining of our vote, our money and our homes. They did this in the 20s and 30s and they are doing it again. They always get richer and we get poorer and farther behind. They steal everything out of the Government because they run and we vote for them to do that. We, as a people, need to start looking at reality and stop electing these rich people to office. They are only going to do what is in their best interest not ours. They don't care about anything but themselves. They use God and the flag against us saying if we don't go along with the no taxing the rich we are socialists, well I believe they are the socialists who expect us to be the capitalists with no capital. It is a big joke. Please wake up and see what they are doing to you, before it is too late.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. iHateStupid

    How would I define "success?" How about the fact that the left-leaning movement has all the major news media outlets giving it an uncritical sympathetic view? CNN should be ashamed.

    October 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
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