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Occupy Wall Street set the tone: A decade later, how protests against inequality made the GOP worse

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"We are the 99%!" exposed a reality Americans couldn't unsee, making Democrats better and Republicans somehow worse
Occupy Wall Street — which started 10 years ago on Friday — has long been understood as a historical novelty, a movement that swiftly rose to national prominence and almost as swiftly sunk below the waves, destroyed by the in-fighting and mission drift that unfortunately tends to plague leftist movements. But, a decade out, it's clearer than ever that the movement had an impact far beyond its own existence.

Inspired by the Arab Spring a year before, a group of protesters started camping in Zucotti Park, which is near Wall Street and in the heart of Manhattan's Financial District, with the message: Americans can no longer tolerate escalating wealth inequalities. It started off with a few hundred people, but spread rapidly across the country, touching the lives of countless Americans. It came down to the simple slogan: "We are the 99%!"

The motto, like the movement, represented Americans who work, day in and day out, but can't seem to ever get ahead. Meanwhile, the 1% — people who make at least $422,000 a year by most recent estimates — are gobbling up an ever-bigger share of the pie. And the ultra-wealthy hoard even more. Recent estimates show that the top .1% of American families has more wealth than the bottom 90% combined. So a few rich people hoard all the cash while everyone else is forced to scrape by on increasingly mean resources.

Occupy Wall Street may be gone, but these truths that it exposed cannot be unseen.

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After decades of conservative propaganda pitting the middle class against the working poor, here was the harsh reality: The reason middle-class people struggle to pay for homes or college tuition is not "welfare queens," but a billionaire class sucking up all the wealth. Republicans had spent decades slashing taxes for the rich and gutting spending on everyone else while triangulating Democrats stood by and let it happen — and in many cases, actively…
Amanda Marcotte
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