Occupy Wall Street just won

July 15
The leaderless, agenda-less, amorphous blob that camped out in New York and Washington and various other cities before disappearing without a trace had become a symbol of how not to achieve political change. Until it won.

It was a movement born out of frustration and idealism and eventually wore out and was swept out of its soggy civic encampments by the municipal broom. There it was, and then there it wasn’t.

It was criticized for its lack of agenda items, and if you visited it while it was around, it was all a little vague as to what was going on. It was essentially there as a witness, to an idea. The idea was that economic and social inequality were getting out of hand, and that financial and corporate power were running away with the game.

They did achieve one thing in their not-all-that-brief moment in the sun and not-so-sunny, and that was to put the idea of the 99% into the public discussion.

And now, with Hillary’s latest speech where she followed Bernie Sanders into Occupy turf, we have the Occupy worldview dead center in a presidential election campaign. Not a bad day’s work for hippies.

The secret to having your idea gain traction is to get the idea right. That’s what Occupy did. They didn’t know what to do about it because the game was fixed at every level. No agenda items they proposed stood a chance until more people got clued in to how the political terrain had frozen. So they stood there in the rain and cold, and the idea got into the back of everyone’s head that maybe they had a point. Some further reflection was all it took.

Now it’s all anyone is talking about.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.
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 Comments 
Enviro Show
3:58 PM EDT
There it is! And what we’ve been saying all along. Tell us who was talking about class issues in the corporate mainstream press before Occupy? Nobody.
Kevin Zeese
1:44 PM EDT
I was one of a handful of people that started organizing the Occupation of Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza in April, six months before occupy began. I’ve continued the same work with http://www.PopularResistance.org. It is nice to see a headline recognizing that Occupy changed the politcal dialogue and impacted the political culture, but we have not yet won. It is a welcome contrast to those who say Occupy accomplished nothing.

In the stages of social movements Occupy was the “take-off” of a new phase of the movement for social justice. After it landed it evolved, now the issues raised in Occupy (none of which are new) are being fought in the effort for $15 minimum wage, Black Lives Matter (yes Occupy included protests against police killings of unarmed Blacks, against mass incarceration and racism), the various efforts to shrink the wealth divide, stop corporate trade deals and fight climate change, among others.

The current stage of the social movement we are in is building national consensus. This is going to take time, but it is occurring. In fact, this headline and article shows we are making progress. We still have a lot of work to do and articles like these will build confidence of activists and spur us to do more so we can actually win. Hillary Clinton is no victory for Occupy though, in many ways, she is our opposite based on her record, despite her current rhetoric.

 Robert Eller
7:41 AM EDT
Sorry, but Occupy Wall Street lost before, and it hasn’t won this time. I was never hostile to the problems that OWS identified. But OWS “solutions” were politically untenable. Because OWS did not concentrate on solving the hurt. The OWS “solution” was to change “the system,” in ways that most people would never have bought into. OWS dreamed of a revolution, whereas most people in the country wanted corrections.

Essentially, most people’s dreams, regardless of all the obvious flaws (including the people who’ve been traditionally excluded) is the socio-economy of the 1950s and 1960s. In other words, capitalism with a strong labor force, fair taxes, opportunity and some mobility. If OWS had focused on the problems, they would have called for re-instating Glass Steagall, and re-pealing the carried interest tax loophole, things like that, which were the proximate causes of the meltdown. Instead, OWS wanted to throw out “the system.” Even if the worst accusations about Government interference and targeting of OWS are absolutely true, OWS would have petered out all on its own. The vast majority of people in the country were never going to buy into OWS “collectivism,” which is a distinctly different animal from Bernie Sanders’ “socialism.” Bernie Sanders is not advocating tearing down “the system,” as OWS did. Bernie’s for economic fairness, a saner income and wealth distribution, regulation. But Bernie’s not advocating the end of capitalism. Neither is Elizabeth Warren (And we sure no Hillary isn’t anti-capitalist.).

OWS lost. And OWS is not winning now. When and if we can roll back capitalism to the 1950s and 1960s model, with broader inclusion, the vast majority of Americans, particularly the Middle Class, will be perfectly happy. And the Upper Classes will still be happy, because they will still be rich, just as they were in earlier, less skewed times.

DownriverDem
12:25 PM EDT
I disagree. Have you forgotten that the unions were strong in the 50s and 60s which is why the middle class grew big time? When we get rid of the gerrymandered districts throughout the land we will see a progressive way. The repubs have had a 35+ year run. It’s way past time for them to go to the sidelines.
nesdc
3:59 PM EDT
Um… were you there? (I was, serving on “demands” committees and talking about what we wanted, ad nauseum). The reason Occupy was an “agenda-less, amorphous blob” was that (a) we generally required consensus – not a majority – for decisions and (b) we came from a huge array of political backgrounds and ideologies. Yes, there were anti-capitalist, collectivist folks who wanted to “overturn the system.” But there were also libertarians. And there were many folks (“progressives”) who had a nearly identical ideology to Bernie or Elizabeth Warren – who wanted things like the return of Glass-Steagall, perhaps publicly funded elections or some way to overcome the deleterious impact of money in politics and Citizens United. Without those types of reforms, it’s hard to imagine any type of meaningful change happening, but I hardly think it makes people like me a radical for thinking they’re necessary and going to the streets to demand them.
larry@916
4:10 AM EDT
Occupiers = pawtewey.
TomInTempe
7:16 AM EDT
Not even google search knows what “pawtewey” means. If your intent was to communicate, you failed.
Canvasback
3:34 AM EDT
I love the HRC candidacy. With her and Bernie going at it it’s going to be one for the ages. Bring the popcorn and cue the clown music.
7/15/2015 11:38 PM EDT
The WaPo says the Occupiers didn’t know what to do – they did exactly what they set out to do, draw attention to the issue of the 1% v. the 99% and frame the debate, frame how people viewed issues through that a lens that focused on the inequality problem in America … that is all they could do and all the needed to do at that point … that idea captured the 2012 election with Romney’s 47% comments seen through the lens of the 1% v. the 99% and has been further amplified by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to the point the Occupy movement has achieved what it set out to DO in those first days – change the debate and have politicians follow the people.
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