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Keller @ Large: What Did ‘Occupy’ Movement Accomplish?

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Occupy Boston, view from the Federal Reserve Building (credit: Raquel L. Auriemma)

Occupy Boston, view from the Federal Reserve Building (credit: Raquel L. Auriemma)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – One year ago today, the takeover of a Manhattan park by a diverse group of protestors marked the start of the so-called Occupy movement, prompting a string of copycat encampments around the world.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

So on this first anniversary, what can we honestly say this “movement” has accomplished?

In terms of tangible achievements, not much.

At the height of the protests, I heard very few Occupiers claiming their activity would start to produce candidates, as the Tea Party movement did, with the general concensus being that this was a waste of time, and they seem to have lived down to this sentiment.

There are vague, unprovable claims that the Occupy movement altered the nature of political debate by somehow elevating economic inequality to a more prominent place in the discussion.

These arguments generally boil down to citations of the number of times certain words appear on the internet, an underwhelming trophy, to say the least.

If Occupy and its language has made its mark on the political mainstream, you wouldn’t know it from the two party conventions, where their name was rarely, if ever, mentioned.

I’m sure there are activists out there working on issues like foreclosures and corporate accountability who may have been inspired by Occupy, and if so, there’s something of substance to point to. And in a way, the question of what they’ve achieved one year out is a little bit unfair.

Protest movements often come and go without leaving an immediate mark. That doesn’t mean the causes of protest and the anger they express won’t re-emerge in another, more effective form down the road.

The real verdict on Occupy will start to come in on November 6, when we’ll see how much voter anger at the status quo there really is.

But for now, with no sign of the large recurring protests some predicted after the camps were shut down and a poor showing in the two convention cities, the burden is on Occupy’s proponents to explain how their movement was more than a bunch of media hype, a fall flower of the left that faded and died when the weather turned cold.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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