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. Simple Solution

    An even better idea, forget this whole "one nation under God' theory. As one nation we get screwed in one lump sum. Apart we stand a chance. I can get the 9 percent of my paycheck back that benefits me none. Not to mention, there is no more "under God" in this pro-atheist nation. Every state for themselves... Give Arizona, New Mexico, and California back to the Natives. Give Louisiana back to the French. Sell D.C. to the Russians. They own most of them anyways. What good has come out of D.C. in the last 50 years anyways? Cold hard truth for ya...

    October 31, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • TXIvy

      The last 50 years? Clearly you weren't alive during the Cold War. I'm pretty sure Washington had something to do with winning that.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. April Garlow

    I feel that maybe the Occupy Wall Street crowd is being pushed by their parents- who will promote anything that gets them off the couch and out of the house long enough for them to reinvigorate themselves and spend quality time with their partners. Occupy Wall Street saving marriages across the country!! The Viagra sales are skyrocketing right now-and a lot of older people are walking around with smiles on their faces!!!

    October 31, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. reader

    If you look at the European history, you will see that revolutions started with similar unclear, indefined movements. Hungry, poor people start to express their frustration from the political and economical system. These people, however, are not a real treath to the system. The real treat is the pressed and frustrated middle class, who approve and support such movement. Suppression with force of the occupy movement is a wrong answer of the rulling upper class, it just adds fuel to the fire...

    October 31, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • FizzleIzzle

      Threat...T H R E A T

      October 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • leciat

      hungry poor people? you mean like the hungry poor homeless that the ows in new york is complaining about and refuses to feed?

      October 31, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrew Nutra

    They need to come up with a leader. We'll need someone to stick the cleanup bill with once they go home.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. escher7

    Happy Halloween.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ed


    God honest change.

    When the government stops hearing us and starts listening to what we're saying. I think that's the goal in my opinion.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • FizzleIzzle


      October 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. 4F

    Occupy wants a bigger and much better welfare state. They want a government wet-nurse from cradle to grave. And the neat thing is they want someone else to pay for it all.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coigne

      FourF why don't you listen to what they say they want? Why do you have this obsession with a welfare state? What does that have to do with Occupy? They want accountability. You do not? They want affordable housing, education and medical care. They think and I think that our representatives represent the rich who bankroll their elections. Under Reagan the high tax rate dropped from 70% to 28%. Does that strike youn as fair? These people are true American patriots. Respect them.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. E.Joseph

    Occupy is the real move to reality, then

    a) It will accelerate all the future process of our whole life without envolvement.

    b) the answers will be post for them inside a book by professionals.

    c) it is a world parallel our reality, it is like a big lab of changes inside our city and hearts.

    d) If rich people wake up for this, can enjoy the real opportunity to help themselves.

    and much more..... Think Tank!


    October 31, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pepinium

    The protests were a good beginning because the pictures they created were disseminated throughout the world and gave the 99% the reassurance that , indeed, there are a heck of a lot of people that are not happy with the way things are. On the other hand, the important thing is for this movement to coalesce around the idea that THERE IS NO NEED TO OCCUPY ANYTHING. What is needed is for enough people to establish ways of communication and common meeting places IN THE INTERNET, so that an agenda can be agreed upon, and then, use the vote to initiate the needed changes. If this movement is organized in such a way that it can promote its own representatives into government positions that allow them to change the election rules then we can reclaim our democracy, THAT IS THE KEY !! We must find a way to channel all this anger into at least one common important goal, and that should be primarily to CHANGE THE DECISION MAKERS IN GOVERNMENT !! We can defeat the power of corporate lobby and APAC contributions with overwhelming numbers at the polls. The representatives chosen to represent the movement must have as the number one goal the CHANGE IN ELECTION LAWS, from restriction of campaign contributions to term limits. Only then will we have Democracy again in this land.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • kato

      Nothing is going to change until we have Corporatism governing our Nation.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Amy

    So the author thinks filling the white house and congress with MORE republicans will make the protesters cheer and go home because THAT will solve all of their problems? Is this writer on crack? You are clearly not listening to what these people are saying.


    And newsflash-republican policies of the last thirty years are the cause of 90% of his nations's woes.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • FullVacuumRob

      Um, I'm sorry. I was pretty sure that Dems had the House between 1948 and 1994? May be a few years off here, but how exactly is that possible? Let's not put it on a party. It's US. @XO (3:05 PM) hit it pretty well.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Isis

    This whole movement is as idiotic as the people they're complaining about.

    What a waste if time. Just do something Positive to change the World. Yourself. Alone.


    October 31, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pepinium

      Isis, your cult to individualism is not a sign of strength but shows lack of wisdom. Though there are many brainless idiots at some of these demonstrations, as at any public gathering, there are very strong reasons for this generation to wake up because a few very selfish and greedy people are stealing theirs and their children futures and are intent on returning to the times of feudalism. These are organized forces, intent on utilizing every method at their disposal and incredible amounts of wealth to make sure that the victimized majority does not organize to present a common front of resistance. Don't let Fox or Rush paint a picture of anarchism for you. This is the next logical evolution of a democracy that has been corrupted and now calls for a rebirth. Our founding fathers would be proud of this generation finally reacting to what is a very serious threat to the foundations of this nation.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. infonomics

    One of the most interesting ironies of this controversy comes from the OWS opposition who are forever demanding the bums to get a job. Their mindset is focused on a job, not self-employment. I thought this group, the opposition, were rugged individualists. Well, how rugged can one be when you nurse at the teat of Corporate America or any other employer?

    October 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Coigne

    It is wonderful to see these brave young, middle-aged and older Americans demonstrating for the good of our country. They are true patriots.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • FullVacuumRob

      No, they're the 47% who pay no taxes. On Larry Winget's blog is this data point: 34% of Occupiers think the US is similar to Al-Qaeda. Patriotic? Hardly.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan, TX

      It is truly bizarre to hear conservatives complain about 47% of people not paying federal income taxes. Conservatives should be patting these people on the back, they are the recipients of the republican party demand for ever lower taxes on all. NO CONSERVATIVE can complain about 47% paying no income taxes, when the republican party stands for NEVER RAISING TAXES and in fact, INSIST that taxes are too high. It is just crazy. They pay no taxes because republicans believe that taxes are theft. Those who pay no taxes are free to be entrepreneurs and create jobs. To complain about people paying no taxes is to say that conservatism has FAILED.

      October 31, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johannes

    @GeorgeBos95 hah Man, you are such a hater and a troll. I cant believe people who can come on to a site like this and not even pretend to want to have an intelligent discussion about what is going on in the world. I always wonder and have a little regret every time I attempt to read these comments.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kato

    Please be aware that the Koch Brothers are paying lots of people to post on this website to support the right wing.

    October 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ct

      Proof? or you just lie 'cause you can't figure out why some people disagree with the socialist movement? I do this for free.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • kato

      @CT..."Socialist movement"? We have already a socialist movement, the one for the 1%. Did you forget about the Bank Bailout? Ring a bell? in True Capitalism, the AIG, Goldman Sacks etc..of the world would have been gone, yes dead and erased from the planet. However our corrupt Corporate Run Government decided to bail them out with Tax Payers money. Ignorance runs rampant in the USA and I fell sorry for you CT...It is not your fault.. but the system you live in. Un-Matrix yourself!

      October 31, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
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