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Fri Jan 31, 2014, 10:23 AM

Kshama Sawant: The Great Red Hope

(In These Times) Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant ended her inauguration speech on January 6 with an exhortation to the voters who had just elected her as the country’s only socialist politician: “To all those prepared to resist the agenda of big business—in Seattle and nationwide—I appeal to you: get organized.” If her election is going to catalyze bold reforms in Seattle, she has said repeatedly, it will require a strong movement behind her. And yesterday, she put her money where her mouth is by announcing that she would accept only $40,000 of her $117,000 salary and donate the rest to a fund to build social justice movements.

Running as a member of the Trotskyist party Socialist Alternative, Sawant was unusual among leftist candidates around the country for her audacity. She did not run as a “protest candidate,” simply raising issues about the bankruptcy of our political system, but rather as someone who believed she could win. Incredibly, in November 2013, she did.

Sawant faces a tough slog in implementing her progressive agenda, which includes a $15 minimum wage, rent control and an income tax on the wealthy to fund better public transit, among other goals. Business interests will fight any kind of minimum wage boost, as they did in the nearby town of SeaTac, where a corporate-backed lawsuit convinced a judge to partially overturn a $15 minimum wage passed by voters.


In the past, you’ve said pushing the Democratic Party to the left is not enough, that there is a need to go beyond that. How will your City Council position build toward something bigger for the Left, whether in Seattle or nationally?

The election of an open socialist in a city council in a major city in the United States is absolutely phenomenal. But we should not make the mistake of thinking, “Well, you know, maybe there’s something unique about Seattle.” The conditions that made this campaign successful exist everywhere. Other cities are probably in worse shape. People don’t need to be convinced that their conditions are bad; they need to be convinced that there is an alternative. They need a shot in the arm. You do that by building small, successful campaigns that generate confidence. We have shown that it’s possible for the Left to bring people together to make concrete demands and start building a movement. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16140/kshama_sawant_the_great_red_hope/

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Reply Kshama Sawant: The Great Red Hope (Original post)
marmar Jan 2014 OP
socialist_n_TN Feb 2014 #1
Grey.Feather.North Feb 2014 #2
socialist_n_TN Feb 2014 #3

Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Feb 1, 2014, 10:23 AM

1. This is an interesting conundrum to me........

with a lot of echoes. Personally, I don't think that Socialist Alternative, and consequently Comrade Sawant, goes far enough. I don't think she's once mentioned the word "revolution" RE: the change to a socialist future. It's always something like "socialist transformation" and other euphemisms. That, in itself, is not a very Trotskyist attitude. OTOH, in many ways she takes the same stand on issues as the group that I'm in (Worker's Power) does. This is one of those "reform or revolution?" questions that has cropped up over and over again for over a century. Socialist Alternative is a centrist organization which see-saws between reform and revolution depending on the winds of popularity. Trotsky was NOT a centrist, even when he was forced to make decisions that involved retreat from revolutionary tactics. He always held the end goal in mind, no matter what he had to do tactically.

We critically supported Comrade Sawant in the Seattle election (and other SA candidates in other elections) because she was a candidate from the working class with support from various working class organizations and unions in her area. Basically, you support those candidates to put them to the test. And, because she does openly take the "socialist" and "Trotskyist" label, like it or not, we ARE invested in her success, at least until a greater mass of people realize that there ARE differences between various Classic Red and Trotskyist organizations.

The election in Seattle showed that the people of that city are willing to give alternative views and candidates a chance. Unfortunately, I don't believe she'll be able to do much more than any left reformist to materially lift the working class and poor in Seattle to another level. I don't think the system will allow her to make the sweeping changes that are needed. Ergo, we need to see her point this out in no uncertain terms when the system does hamstring real changes. I'm not sure her or SA will be willing to make those assertions which will lead to disappointment in her erstwhile supporters and a disillusionment in "socialist" solutions to the problems with capitalism.

Hopefully IMO, the best we can hope for is a sharp left turn in the politics of SA and Comrade Sawant and the use of her position in bourgeois "democracy" to point out, not only the flaws of capitalism, but also the LIMITS of change allowed in bourgeois "democracy". The next logical step after pointing out the limits of change, is to point out the solutions that bypass those limits. And that solution is revolution.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sun Feb 16, 2014, 12:08 AM

2. Her election is definitely something to watch

Her income during her campaign was listed in public disclosure documents as her husband's $100K+ salary at Microsoft, as well as some of her own part-time work. She is currently separated from him (she said this during the campaign), so she probably has more latitude now to go after the 1%-ers,-- a lifestyle it seems she used to be a part of herself. I want to watch what she'll do going forward.

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Response to Grey.Feather.North (Reply #2)

Sun Feb 16, 2014, 08:59 AM

3. Thanks for the input Grey and.......

Welcome to DU and the Socialist Progressives group. I did not know that about hubby. I thought she was a economics professor at a community college. Was that incorrect?

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