Rep. Keith Ellison talks with protesters as he arrives to speak at the Campaign for America's Future "Jobs, Not Cuts" rally at the Capitol on Wednesday.
With the tea party, the lawmakers and groups who embraced the movement also gave it definition. Whether the Wall Street protests go down a similar path could determine how successful they are, said David Meyer, a sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine.
“They have to cluster around something,” said Meyer, whose book, “The Politics of Protest,” is focused on political movements. “Even if the first people that called for the movement are not making demands, other people are going to start using their name and making them.”