At the very least, they showed liberals that "class warfare" rhetoric is politically viable, despite what the DC based "centrists" claimed. Really though I think the lesson for Occupy is that Moderates and Conservatives are not speaking to the enormous and growing insecurities and fears of average Americans. How many "movements" have liberals and radicals tried to get started over the years? There wasn't anything special about Occupy, in my opinion, and I think the organizers were as shocked as anyone when the movement exploded. Now you see Obama venturing into a similar realm... Speaking to the concerns and suffering of average people the same way Occupy does.
It did raise the profile of growing inequality in America as an issue to be discussed and studied. In that sense it had a impact. However, in terms of practical politics it didn't seem to really do anything at all. Occupy implemented no policy changes and didn't elect anyone to office (one guy they ran for Congress in New York got 750 odd votes another guy in Philadelphia didn't get enough signatures to get on the ballot and so he just quit) the two biggest measures of political success in my view. Largely it strikes me as a waste of time. This is nothing new, there is an obsession about the idea of sort of "opened sourced" protest as being some sort of catalyst for social change but by and large it doesn't really work at all. Political action requires sustained effort and organization, both of which Occupy organizers deliberately tried to avoid, as they saw them them as their conceptual enemies. And so of course the movement simply evaporated over time.
I agree with this. It was like Occupy was manufactured in a lab to be ineffective. Movements require leaders if they want to consolidate gains and maintain effectiveness over the long run. There is a reason we talk about Grover Norquist and not Americans for Tax Reform or Cesar Chavez rather than United Farm Workers. A movement that eschews leaders eschews power.
That's true, but on the other hand what leader did the Tea Parties have? Theirs were faceless, with backing of the media.The problem is in the media, not the protest.But the lack of voting is upsetting.
The tea party while being structured in a decentralized way also had numerous ties and politicians claiming to speak for them following their emergence in 2009. Dick Armey from Freedomworks is one example and groups like Americans for Prosperity claimed to speak for the tea party. The tea party also created enough fear among Republicans to pay lip service to their ideas. In Arizona, a number of our state leg candidates (and currently a few electeds) worked in tea party groups before deciding "hell why can't I run". I don't see the same deference being paid to the Occupy movement among Dem candidates throughout the country and as far as I know none of the Dem candidates for state leg here are affiliated with the Occupy movement. Long term though, who knows?
It's too soon to tell. One important role of such movements is that they're incubators for future leaders. We don't know what twentysomething who got her start in Occupy is going to be in the Senate or running for President in 20 or 30 years. What did the "community organizing" in the 1980s on Chicago's South Side accomplish? Well, um.....I do think we can already say that even in the short term, Occupy created a vocabulary that everyone instantly recognizes. The "percent" formulation is what John Edwards' "Two Americas" was supposed to be, but that never took off, whereas commentators across the spectrum are now using "99%" and "1%" without further explanation. It's also a perfect frame for describing Mitt Romney, and not in a way that helps him, as even some on the right have noticed.There's also no telling whether and when Occupy will revive. Robert Reich has an item in the Guardian today arguing that LIBOR scandal might be even bigger than all the Wall Street malfeasance we're seen so far:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/08/american-libor-banking-scandal-us?newsfeed=true"It would amount to a rip-off of almost cosmic proportions – trillions of dollars that average people would otherwise have received or saved on their lending and borrowing that have been going to the bankers instead." If that's so, Occupy might end up looking like just the warm-up.
Yes, prior to the Occupy protests, the national political narrative, as driven by the news media, was that the poor ecnonomy was, in part, due to government spending on social welfare programs, that people would have to feel pain before things got better, and that in order to be more "competitive" protections for ordinary people would have to be rolled up. There was also some outcry about Wall Street's sins, but no corresponding recognition that regulations were necessary and that free market fundamentalism is as dangerous as socialist fundamentalism. Occupy introduced the salient idea that the economic problems were caused by declining living standards, that the vast majority of people have been hurting even before 2008 while a very small number of people had gotten much wealther-people who weren't at that time being asked to sacrifice anything in the name of recovery. While that might not have been every protester's message, many people knew what "we are the 99%" meant. This theory, which in addition to being more accurate, is also incredibly popular and it freaked out the Right enough that Eric Cantor tried to give a speech on economic equality, something his ideology did not even acknowledge. I think the political lesson from Occupy was that political narrative writers and opinion makers in the mass media are very powerful, but the street is still powerful too. A slightly more depressing lesson was that it took a series of major demonstrations to bring an entirely rational center-left economic theory into the mainstream U.S. media.
Certainly not within the Democratic Party, I would say. There will not be any Occupy policy preference passed into law that wasn't already the policy preference of establishment Democrats. Which is sad, really. They could've scared them into being better Democrats.
Couple of important meme's in the public mind; though perhaps not as they were meant:First is the concept of the 99%; a redefining of what class means. If you're in the 99%, you can still safely stake a claim to 'middle class.' Second is the mic check. A reworking of the call-and-response of church. We're seeing it at Obama's speeches, and as the political season rolls on, I suspect we'll see more of it as both support (response of repeating what's said on the stage,) and protest.
"Call and response" is an old, always effective political rally technique. Occupy maybe sometimes used it. Instead, they became famous/notorious for the human megaphone (cascading, straight repetition of the speaker, often uninflected because of the complication of rendering full sentences), which I'm sure irritates as many or more people than it excites.
None of them seem to have voted in any numbers, or affected any voters in the CA Primary.Very disappointing.
Occupy achieved a lot for progressives in the short term -- forced their perspective onto the national debate and seemed to make Democrats tack to the left, at least rhetorically. Maybe it lit a spark within some young radical who will grow up to become a progressive leader (Does that describe Obama?).Occupy didn’t want to organize because they knew they’d be co-opted by the Democratic party. But their only alternative seemed to be some fanciful dream of igniting a people’s revolution. Another alternative might be to organize in pursuit of a specific goal of their own. Here the better model might be the Ron Paul campaign, which has accomplished quite a bit in spite of having none of the institutional support that Occupy enjoys.
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At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect