Introduction: Below we are reproducing in full a press release from the campaign of Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant — Sawant to debate Frank Chopp and call for left challenge to Democrats in Seattle’s 2013 elections. Also in this post, a video of Cde. Sawant speaking about her campaign and program.
Cde. Sawant received a remarkable 28% of the vote in a race for State Representative. This result offers an opportunity for revolutionaries and movement activists to debate and discuss what this means and what the road forward might look like. We apologize for the length of these introductory remarks, but the issues involved require a thorough examination.
SALT’s post-election statement calls for a left electoral slate in Seattle’s municipal elections. We are concerned, however, by what they seem to conceive of as “left.” They will be “seeking to put together a left slate, presumably with the Justice and Green Parties as well as the FSP and perhaps others…” The Greens or the Justice Party are both are liberal-progressive, multi-class, reformist formations. There are some socialists in the Greens, but the issue is about what social class we are trying to organize politically.
The programs of the Greens and Justice Party are liberalism, not in any way anti-capitalist. In that sense, we oppose socialists giving them support, because it reinforces illusions in electoralism and in the possibility that capitalism can be “fixed.” Stein’s program for “breaking up the big banks,” for example, would accomplish nothing because the same social class will still control and own the economy. Nationalizing the banks under workers control and without compensation — that would change the game.
What socialists call for in terms of elections should be clear and not reinforce illusions in reformism.
How would a left slate campaign reach out to the mass organizations of workers and the oppressed?
The challenge is how to get the working class and oppressed into motion and how to break the hold the Democrats have over the unions.
How can we advance the struggle for a truly independent workers party that fights both in the street and in elections?
Is this the time to build broad all-inclusive left or socialist parties? The desire for a broad left type formation is the result of a healthy impulse for unity and “getting things done.” We would argue that the very real differences on the left mean that a sudden “unity” would have an opposite effect. Not enough people agree on “what to do next.”
Would a united front struggle against cuts and concessions, based on mass action and trying to reach the unions be a better use of our time and effort than elections? United fronts are built around specific actions. Electoral fronts are different in character.
Sawant to debate Frank Chopp and call for left challenge to Democrats in Seattle’s 2013 elections
WHAT: Post-Election Forum “Where Do Progressives Go From Here?” hosted by Pastor Rich Lang, featuring Frank Chopp, Kshama Sawant, and Tim Harris (Director of Real Change) WHEN: Thursday, November 8th, 7:00 PM WHERE: University Temple Methodist Church, 1415 43rd Street NE, Seattle, WA
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.”
Election night saw mass celebrations erupt in the streets of Seattle after the passage of Referendum 74 upholding marriage rights for same-sex couples. Speaking from atop a make-shift sound truck, Sawant addressed a crowd of over 2,000 people: “If you think that the Democratic Party politicians did this for you, let me tell you it was us that won this! The fight for LGBT rights has just begun, we still need to fight poverty, homelessness, and workplace discrimination.” ###