August 7, 2013

Socialist Kshama Sawant Takes On Seattle Democrats - Again, winning 35% Of The Vote And A Run Off Election


In 2012 Kshama Sawant ran for the Washington House of Representatives, Position 1 in the 43rd District against “progressive” Democrat and House Speaker Frank Chopp.  She won an unprecedented 27% of the vote.  At that time she said of her campaign, “We received this result as an openly Socialist campaign ignored by the media, no corporate donations.  Occupy gave voice to people’s rage at Wall Street, our campaign gave voice to people’s anger at corporate politicians.  It shows the potential to build a powerful left electoral challenge to the two corporate parties.”
Kshama Sawant is a member of Socialist Alternative and teaches economics at Seattle Central Community College. She is a member of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789. 
Yesterday Sawant received 35% of the vote.  This time she is running for Seattle City Council and will now face a run off against incumbent Richard Conlin who received only 49% of the vote.
Kshama Sawant has received endorsements from The Stranger, the Green Party of Seattle, and progressive community leaders such as founding director of Real Change Tim Harris, Occupy activist Dorli Rainey, journalist Geov Parrish, and former Seattle School Board member Sally Soriano.  Sawant has also been endorsed by four unions, AFT Local 1789, CWA Local 37083, WFSE Local 1488, and IBEW Local 46, which together represent over 9,000 workers.
In the endorsement by The Stranger  they said of her opponent, “Richard Conlin claimed to be a progressive environmentalist during his 16 years on the council, when in fact he has spent those four terms helping to kill mass transit, build new highways, and seek harsh penalties for panhandlers. He's not a progressive; he's a green-washing liberal fraud.”
The Seattle Times wrote off her campaign as, “Too hard left for Seattle”.  But 28% last year and 35% this year voted for her and now Seattle will get the chance to choose between Kshama Sawant and the “greenwashing liberal fraud”.
But what are the issues her campaign is talking about?  I will end with  her campaign literature and you see an activist campaign which is uncompromising when it takes on the Democratic Party:
“Working people in Seattle have a clear political choice for a change. If you want to fight for an alternative to the status quo, join us in the struggle for a citywide $15/hour minimum wage, a major expansion of public transit by taxing Seattle’s millionaires, increased investment in affordable housing, and implementing rent control. All of the Democratic Party politicians accept the conventional parameters of debate, that is, one whose very assumptions are based on the interests of big business and the super-rich, and set aside the interests of working people, women, young people, the poor and the homeless, people of color, the elderly, and the disabled."

"Sawant’s campaign is radical in that it is a direct challenge to the Democratic Party, and all of its various flavors, and to pro-corporate politics in general.  Kshama Sawant is campaigning to blaze a new trail in modern American politics – one based unapologetically on the independent interests of working people and all those marginalized by the capitalist system."
Unlike Conlin, Sawant refuses to accept corporate donations.  Her grassroots campaign has raised $25,000, predominantly in the form of small donations of $25 or less, and has mobilized over 125 volunteers.  “We will make history by raising a grassroots army of over 300 volunteers, and run one of the biggest door knocking campaigns this city has seen to defeat Richard Conlin,” Sawant declared.
“Conlin has made clear where he stands, with corporations and the elite. By not representing the majority of struggling working people in this city, he has made himself obsolete.”
Sawant has pledged to only take the average worker's wage and donate the rest to building social justice movements not the $120,000 the rest of the City Council receives.
"Mayor Mike McGinn and the entire City Council are all Democrats, in spite of the positions being nominally non-partisan, and there hasn’t been a Republican elected to the Seattle City Council since 1991. Responsibility for Seattle’s sky-rocketing rent, low wages, one of the worst gender pay gaps among major U.S. cities, and Seattle police’s racism and brutality lies at the doors of the Democratic Party establishment, which has had a one-party monopoly on power in this city (and majorities in King County and in Olympia). A city council filled with committed working-class representatives is precisely what Seattle needs and has not had."
"It’s a vital necessity that workers and left-wing movements break from the failed strategy of supporting the Democratic Party and mount more independent campaigns.  If the left doesn’t break from the Democratic Party who control the federal government and most major cities, it will open the space for the Republicans and the Tea Party to exploit working-class people’s legitimate frustrations and misdirect them at women, minorities, and environmentalists.” 





3 comments:

Charles Wynns said...

I'm encouraged! The thing is to have a thousand more candidates like Kshama Sawant... Far more important, to have a movement capable of pursuing such a candidacies.

The only difficulty I see with this article, and with left socialist candidacies in general is that tendency to lose the thread of building a modern socialist content and instead lapsing into being the "anti-democrats party". On the other hand, the criticisms of the democrats are right on. So it's a matter of nuance.
All the same, the Kshama Sawant candidacy is doing great things, and the Seattle Left should be commended!

Charles Wynns said...

I'm encouraged! The thing is to have a thousand more candidates like Kshama Sawant... Far more important, to have a movement capable of pursuing such a candidacies.

The only difficulty I see with this article, and with left socialist candidacies in general is that tendency to lose the thread of building a modern socialist content and instead lapsing into being the "anti-democrats party". On the other hand, the criticisms of the democrats are right on. So it's a matter of nuance.
All the same, the Kshama Sawant candidacy is doing great things, and the Seattle Left should be commended!

Ann Montague said...

Clearly taking on the Democrats is an important lesson but she is running as a member of Socialist Alternative a Trotskyist organization so I am sure the socialist thread is there. They are also running a strong campaign in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities Branch of Socialist Action has endorsed the campaign there. I don't know about the Boston campaign I assume it is also running strong.