Socialistworld.net reported about the huge openings in the US for socialist ideas and the search for a real representation of working people against the politics of the right-wing Republicans as well as the pro-big business Democrats. You will find much more about the success of Kshama Sawant first winning a seat in Seattle´s city council – the first openly socialist campaign winning in 100 years – and then using this position to build a grassroots movement to win $15/hour minimum wage here http://socialistworld.net/goto/us . This is an update on recent developments, showing the support Kshama and Socialist Alternative are able to build for.
“Poll Shows Sawant Polarizing, but with Impressive Favorable Rating” is the title under which a huge confirmation of the politics of Kshama Sawant and her organization, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the US), were published. It reveals: People know the mayor and - after less than a year in office - Seattle´s workers and youth know that there is an opposition to the mayor´s policies of business as usual, of the corporate favoritism: Kshama Sawan t. The figures are published here.
They show that Kshama Sawant, Seattle´s Socialist Alternative council member was able through winning $15/hour minimum wage and campaigning for working class issues up and down the city to establish a voice for the 99% - what she promised to do one year ago in her election campaign.
In her district, Kshama achieved the highest approval figures compared to all the other council members in theirs – 61%. It´s also clear that an unrelenting struggle for workers and poor does not just create friends, but has to some extend a polarizing effect, as this polls shows. However, this is a huge encouragement to continue the efforts to challenge the big business agenda of the Democratic Party establishment dominating the city for far too long.
The latest success of Kshama´s efforts in the city council with mobilizing and creating coalitions beyond the narrow frame work of this body were the renaming of the national holiday “Columbus Day” in Seattle to “Indigenous People`s Day”. Kshama received national attention with this, including coverage on Democracy Now!, for example, explaining that this “is about more than just a name change. It is about educating ourselves and our children, about taking a stand against racism and discrimination.”
In Seattle itself, a wave of media attention rained on her when Kshama called out the chamber of commerce retreat of the city council: Every budget season is interrupted for the majority of the council to join a retreat in a luxury resort hosted by the chamber of commerce. “What a brazen display of corporate favoritism”, Kshama Sawant argued at a press conference, “It is no wonder that the budget, year after year is completely out of touch with the economic problems faced by ordinary working people.”
Watch a report of the capitalist media here.
Jess Spear taking up another corporate servant
At the same time, one of the most powerful politicians is forced into a battle for support of Seattle´s voters in the 43rd District, ending on November 4. Jess and Socialist Alternative are taking on the Democratic Party machine and their big business agenda.
Funded by an army of corporate donors, and backed by the Democratic Party establishment, Chopp was able to out-spend Jess Spear three times. However, in the face to face debates – that the 20 year long incumbent carefully tried to minimize and shorten – Jess exposed him as the “corporate servant” that he is. Jess came out as “by far the most impassioned speaker of the day. She answered the moderators’ questions, but went further than any other candidate, bluntly calling for more taxes on the wealthy and on Boeing,” local media (Crosscut) was forced to summarize.
Just watch this TV debate!
In the middle of the campaign the Washington State Supreme Court held the legislator in contempt for criminally underfunding education. Pointing to the $8.7 billion handout for Boeing bosses, while Boeing shifted thousands of jobs out of the state, Jess Spear was quoted in the Seattle Times, the most widespread newspaper in Seattle: “It was noteworthy that the state legislature argued that it was easier to pass a tax handout rather than fund education.”
This quote was then curiously removed from the article on the website. “This really shows the importance of independent media sources – media outlets that are controlled by working people in the service of working people, rather than relying on media that’s owned and controlled by big business and can shut out voices that are important to the discussion," concluded Jess, a subscriber and writer for the paper “Socialist Alternative” (you can get a digital subscription here).
More than 300 volunteers
Against this wave of money and media power, door knocking and direct conversations are crucial. More than 300 volunteers help talk to people in their neighborhoods, putting up posters and handing out leaflets.
During the campaign, Jess – a climate scientist herself – brought together a coalition of environmental and labor organizations to coordinate the People´s Climate March in Seattle on September 21, the same day as the historic march in New York. This protest demanded jobs and protection of the environment – and ended in blocking the tracks used for oil and gas trains for two hours in an act of civil disobedience.
The yard signs of the campaign for Jess demanded to “Tax the rich – fund education” and “We need rent control”. After winning $15/hour minimum wage in Seattle, in which Jess was 15 Now´s organizing director, the question of affordable housing is the most pressing issue in the emerald city.
Through the successes of mobilizing 2,000 for climate action, having thousands of conversations on door steps about rent control, and mass flyering to demand to tax the rich, Socialist Alternative’s roots in the Northwest have deepened and it is growing in Seattle – and nationwide. Future campaigns can build on the experiences and successes of a marvelous effort to chop Chopp.