Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:02 AM
tama (9,137 posts)
Socialist wins historic 27% against WA House Speaker
A Socialist candidate and Occupy Seattle activist who had more than a quarter of the vote in her race against state House Speaker Frank Chopp has set her sights on next year’s city elections. Kshama Sawant says she is recruiting a slate of Socialist candidates to run for Seattle City Council and mayor next year.
Though Sawant, a Central Seattle Community College lecturer, lost to Chopp by a lot, she did better than past contenders. Kim Verde, a Republican, lost to the longtime Speaker of the House in 2008 and 2010, each time with about 13 percent of the vote. Tuesday night, Sawant had 27 percent of the vote.
Sawant first filed to run for the Position 1 seat in the 43rd, against state Rep. Jamie Pedersen. She came in second, qualifying for the general. But she ended up coming in second as a write-in candidate for Position 2, aided by The Stranger when it endorsed her as a write-in alternative to Chopp, and then wrote stories about her.
In a statement, Sawant said: “We achieved this election result as an openly Socialist campaign that was largely ignored by the corporate media, with no corporate donations, on a shoe string budget. Occupy gave a voice to working people’s rage at Wall Street, and our campaign gave voice to mass anger at the corporate politicians. It shows the potential to build a powerful left electoral challenge to the two corporate parties.”
Kshama Sawant, the Occupy-inspired Socialist Alternative candidate for Washington State House, scored 27% against Democratic incumbent Speaker Frank Chopp. With half the votes yet to be counted, Sawant is predicted to win over 20,000 votes – the highest vote for an openly Socialist candidate in Washington in decades, and Frank Chopp’s strongest challenge during his entire 18 years in office. This follows the historic lawsuit by Sawant that compelled the Washington Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and King County to print her party preference, Socialist Alternative, on the ballot.
“We achieved this election result as an openly Socialist campaign that was largely ignored by the
corporate media, with no corporate donations, on a shoe string budget,” explained Sawant. “Occupy gave a voice to working people’s rage at Wall Street, and our campaign gave voice to mass anger at the corporate politicians. It shows the potential to build a powerful left electoral challenge to the two corporate parties.”
“This vote sends a clear message to Frank Chopp and the political establishment – we are coming after you. We are reaching out to other progressive forces to form a united left slate of independent working-class candidates to run a vigorous campaign for Mayor and every open City Council position in 2013,” Sawant stated. “Wall Street has two parties – working people need a party of our own.”
The Democrats who control the state government are likely to implement further budget cuts to social services next year while they allow corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft to get away without paying barely any taxes. Sawant, a professor of economics at Seattle Central Community College and union activist, commented: “Alongside left electoral challenges, public sector unions like mine need to prepare for strike action against cuts. Ordinary people need to be ready to occupy City Hall and the Olympia state capitol building against attacks on our living standards.”
In mid-July, one of Seattle’s largest public employees union endorsed a Socialist Alternative activist, Kshama Sawant, who is running for the Washington State House of Representatives from the 43rd legislative district. The Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) local 587 is a union of approximately 4,000 bus drivers and transit workers, most of whom work for King County Metro Transit.
Shortly after ATU local 587 endorsed Sawant, the prominent weekly Seattle newspaper The Stranger also endorsed Sawant as a write-in candidate for the 43rd legislative district, position 2. These two endorsements are the latest signs of the growing support the Sawant campaign has been receiving.
Since the economic crisis struck in 2008, on top of 30 years of growing inequality, support for the Republicans and Democrats has been steadily declining as these corporate-controlled political parties have implemented policies that have widened the chasm between the richest 1% and working people. Despite cynicism on the left, there were hardly any objections raised among rank-and-file ATU members about endorsing an openly Socialist candidate. In fact, the votes at the union membership meetings were practically unanimous.
Sawant advocates reversing the $10.5 billion in budget cuts to public services that her opponent Democratic Representative Jamie Pedersen and the Democratic Party-majority state government have implemented during the economic crisis. In fact, Sawant calls for expanding funding to make public transit free, environmentally sound, and extremely convenient for commuters. Seattle has the 4th worst traffic in North America because its transit system is centered around private cars, which is also disastrous for the climate change crisis.
The other strategic lesson of the Sawant campaign concerns the problem of sectarianism/left unity. The International Socialist Organization’s (ISO) refusal to endorse and work with/for Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative materially weakened the campaign against the Washington legislature’s Democratic speaker, Frank Chopp. The ISO’s support could have brought much-needed publicity and funds to a dynamic and promising but under-funded campaign since the ISO is the largest revolutionary socialist organization in the country.
Here was an exceedingly rare and golden opportunity to unite a fractured local left against the most powerful Democrat in state politics and instead of seizing the opportunity to weaken the Democratic Party, the ISO refused to get on board, preferring silence, inaction, and isolation while Chopp twisted the arms of unions and nonprofits alike to endorse him or stay neutral (as the ISO did).
Sectarianism must be exposed to the light of day and combated in the here and now, while the stakes are low. When the stakes are high, we cannot afford the “luxury” of this kind of needless and counterproductive sectarianism. In Greece, the Communist Party’s (KKE) sectarianism towards the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) gave the European Union’s banksters the security of knowing they would face a workers’ movement and a left unwilling to unite, and like Germany in the 1930s, the Communist Party’s unwillingness to unite has opened up the space for a menacing fascist movement, the Golden Dawn.
What we really need is an American SYRIZA, not an American KKE in miniature. Creating one and overcoming the other remains our central task.
4 replies, 1743 views
Socialist wins historic 27% against WA House Speaker (Original post)
Response to tama (Original post)
Sun Nov 11, 2012, 10:30 AM
kooljerk666 (776 posts)
1. Excellent, DNC, New Democrat & Neo-Liberal DEMS get ready for 2014!! I hope u all need new jobs!
It is time to start gearing up for 2014. Aside from getting New seats, the Dem party needs to elect dems not in the wallet of the Military Industrial Complex.
Cancellation of the F-35 & the B-61 H-Bomb upgrade/update is a "HUUUGE" (don trump HUUUGE) priority for me. Reduction in navy size & shutting down 80%-90% of the nuclear arsenal a big deal too.
Drones over America, if u support this, then GOODBYE YOU BASTARD!!!
Response to tama (Original post)
Sun Nov 11, 2012, 12:19 PM
limpyhobbler (8,244 posts)
2. This is a big achievement.
Thanks for posting these articles. This is really interesting.
That article from northstar.info makes a pretty good case for their position I think. Strikes and such are needed but to get political power, people also need to get control of politics.
A real coalition of the progressive left would be a great idea. In my view to be most effective it should include the most progressive elements from the Democratic Party and any of the smaller parties who would choose to participate.
Participating in Democratic Party primaries is also another way to exert political influence and a coalition could also do that.
Response to tama (Original post)
Tue Nov 13, 2012, 02:30 AM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
3. 43rd = U-district, wallingford, madison park, capitol hill. and part of downtown.
I'd never heard of the party before but evidentally it's been around a while & also has ties to Occupy, also to the earlier (circa seattle 1999) anti-globalization movement, ralph nader, etc.
Socialist Alternative (SA) is a socialist political party active in the United States. It identifies itself as "a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day. We are community activists fighting against budget cuts in public services; we are union activists fighting for living wage jobs and militant, democratic unions; we are people of all colors speaking out against racism and attacks on immigrants, students organizing against tuition hikes and war, women and men fighting sexism and homophobia."
It is active in over 15 major cities in the United States including New York City, Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, New Orleans, Madison, Tampa, Philadelphia and Mobile. It publishes a national bi-monthly newspaper called "Justice" along with various local newsletters and internet media outlets. In recent years it has centered its activity around various campaigns including home foreclosures, public education, union rights, public transit, and the Occupy movement. It is in political solidarity with the Committee for a Workers' International, an international socialist organization headquartered in London, United Kingdom.