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Socialist Alternative (USA)
Kshama Sawant's 2015 primary election night speech. As of the close of counting August 7, Kshama's total vote was 51.88%.
By Tom Crean, Seattle
August 5, 2015 -- Socialist Alternative, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A fired-up crowd of more than 200 supporters of Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant gathered in the Melrose Market Studios in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood to hear the result of the non-partisan primary for the Seattle City Council election.
Many thousands more around Seattle and the nation were anxiously awaiting the outcome of the first stage of the most important electoral battle for the left in the United States in 2015, to hold the seat Kshama won in 2013 as the first open socialist elected to a council in a major urban area in decades.
The attitude to the presidential campaign of long-time independent US senator and self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders has become a major debate on the US left. Some see his decision to run as a Democrat as the major dividing line, accusing him of sidetracking the left into support for the capitalist Democratic Party. Others, while recognising Sanders' shortcomings, point to the wider role his campaign can offer in providing a more radical pole of attraction in US politics at a time when the left is weak. Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal makes available two views from significant sections of the US socialist left. Readers' comments are encouraged in the comments box after the articles.
Por Dan La Botz
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4412.]
12 de mayo de 2015 -- Vientosur.info -- Unos 200 activistas políticos, individuales o miembros de diversas organizaciones independientes, han protagonizado un debate enriquecedor y amistoso sobre la manera de colaborar en la construcción de una amplia alternativa política a la izquierda del Partido Demócrata.
Los participantes en la Conferencia sobre el "Futuro de la Izquierda y la Política Independiente" – candidatos y activistas nacionales, estatales y locales, así como cargos electos del Partido Verde, del Partido de la Paz y la Libertad, la Alianza Progresista de Richmond, la Alternativa Socialista y el Partido Progresista de Vermont– debatieron en un espíritu de cooperación sin precedentes sobre los retos electorales y las dificultades que entraña ejercer un cargo público mientras se intenta construir movimientos y llevar a cabo políticas progresistas. A la conferencia también asistieron miembros de los Demócratas Progresistas de América y del Partido de la Justicia.
May 5, 2015 -- Solidarity (USA), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Some 200 political activists from a variety of independent political organisations, as well as individual activists, carried out rich discussion and amicable debate about how to collaborate in the work of building a large political alternative to the left of the Democratic Party.
Participating in the Future of the Left/Independent Politics Conference in an unprecedented spirit of cooperation, national, state, and local candidates and activists, as well as elected officials from the Green Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, Socialist Alternative, International Socialist Organization (ISO) and the Vermont Progressive Party discussed the challenges of campaigning and the difficulties of actually holding office while trying to both build movements and push progressive policies. Also at the conference were members of Progressive Democrats of America and the Justice Party.
Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant and other socialist municipal election campaigns.
By Ben Norton
March 17, 2015 -- Socialist Worker (USA), posted at Links International of Socialist Renewal -- The Urban League is going after the only leftist and the only woman of colour on the Seattle City Council. Rather than challenging the pro-corporate advocates of neoliberalism, whether Democrat or Republican, who increasingly dominate US politics, this well-known liberal organisation is expending its energy on defeating the left.
Pamela Banks, president of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, announced this month that she will run in the next municipal election against City Council member Kshama Sawant, the Socialist Alternative candidate who won national attention for her successful 2013 campaign.
Left to right: Brian Jones (ISO), Kshama Sawant (Socialist Alternative) and Howie Hawkins (Greens). Hawkins, the ISO and Socialist Alternative have endorsed the conference.
By Robert C.
February 17, 2015 -- Against the Current, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Activists and candidates from around the United states will come together on May 2-3, 2015, in Chicago to share their experiences and to launch a network for future cooperation at the Future of Left/Independent Electoral Action Conference.
The past few years have seen a significant uptick in independent political initiatives on the left, from election campaigns to new local electoral and social movement formations, to referenda campaigns.
Kshama Sawant’s November 2014 election to the Seattle City Council captured the attention of leftists across the country, but a number of other exciting campaigns have also been path breaking, including the Jackson Plan of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Richmond Progressive Alliance’s David and Goliath fight against Chevron in the East Bay. Many recent political developments have brought organisers building alternatives to the two-party system together with those using direct action and referenda to help win gains against fracking, for a $15 minimum wage, and other important initiatives.
Jess Spear (fifth from left) and supporters.
US Socialist Alternative candidate Jess Spear has won more than 20% of the vote in the August 5 primary election, against Frank Chopp, a 20-year Democrat incumbent in the Washington State parliament and speaker of the house. The actual general election for the seat will take place in November 2014. The campaign builds on the victory of Kshama Sawant, who won a position on the Seattle city council. This letter and report was sent to supporters of Spear.
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August 8, 2014 -- Vote Jess Spear, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Every one of you should be proud of what we accomplished in our primary election campaign. In the first count of votes on election night we had won 19% against the most powerful legislator in the state, and as the late votes are counted we will likely end up with over 20%. In fact so far Jess has received 22.16% of the late votes, with more to be counted.
By Dan La Botz
July 2014 -- New Politics -- The US political system, so highly polarised between conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats, has experienced in the last year some interesting changes on the left-hand margin of the national political scene.
From Bill de Blasio’s victory in the mayoral election in New York City, to Kshama Sawant’s winning of a city council seat in Seattle, from the late Chokwe Lumumba’s popularly based campaign in Jackson, Mississippi, to self-described socialist Bernie Sanders’ talk of a run for the presidency, something new appears to be happening.
Independent politics and socialist party campaigns, so long marginal to US political life and from discussion in the media, seem to be back on the radar again. This is all the more remarkable given our terrible election laws that make it so difficult in so many states to get parties and candidates on the ballot.
Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists around the world at the municipal level.
April 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Kshama Sawant spoke on labour and independent politics at the 2014 Labor Notes convention, April 4-6, in Chicago. Sawant was elected as a socialist to the Seattle City Council in November 2013. She is an adjunct professor of Seattle Community College and a member of American Federation of Teachers 1789.
Production by the Labor Video Project http://www.laborvideo.org.
Nearly 100 people met at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22 for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign. Photo by Isaac Silver.
By Andrew Mortazavi
January 24, 2014 -- In These Times -- If a socialist can win an election in Seattle, why not Chicago? That was the spirit at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22, where close to 100 Chicagoans gathered for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign.
Drawing on the example of Seattle’s Kshama Sawant—who in November became the first socialist in recent memory elected to a city council—the campaign seeks to run a socialist candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 2015 city council race. Activists also plan to use the electoral effort to amplify the demands of popular movements in Chicago, such as the call for a $15 minimum wage.
Democracy Now! interviewed Kshama Sawant on January 6, 2014, prior to her inauguration.
Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists at the municipal level.
By Kshama Sawant, Seattle
January 6, 2014 -- Vote Sawant
My brothers and sisters,
Thank you for your presence here today.
This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.
This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, 50 million of our people – one in six – live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.
Click HERE for more on Kshama Sawant's election campaign and those of other socialists.
January 5, 2014 -- Black Sheep Radio -- Just a few weeks after Kshama Sawant was victorious running as a socialist for the Seattle City Council, and on the eve of her inauguration on January 6, 2014, we interviewed Anh Tran, Sawant’s assistant for the campaign. Tran also served as the volunteer coordinator for Sawant when she ran for the Washington State Legislature in 2012, so talking to Tran we were able to get a sense of the wider arc of the Seattle election.
North Carolinians mobilised against an anti-worker (and anti-woman, anti-civil rights) legislative assault by bringing thousands of protesters to the state capitol every week for “Moral Mondays”, with close to a thousand arrests. Photo by Ajamu Dillahunt.
By Jenny Brown
December 30, 2013 -- Labor Notes -- Lean meanness stalked workplaces. The political and economic outlook continued dismal. But the year was marked by workers trying new things and setting higher standards, for their employers, their unions, and—in the case of low-wage workers—their pay.
Unemployment ticked down slightly, but the jobs created paid worse than ever. Mainstream media reported with amazement that jobs that once paid the bills, from bank teller to university instructor, now require food stamps and Medicaid to supplement the wages of those who work every day.
California Walmart worker Anthony Goytia spoke for many when he said it’s no longer pay cheque to pay cheque for him and his co-workers, but payday loan to payday loan.
By Jason Netek, Chicago
December 16, 2013 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- There is a lot of debate among socialists in the United States about just how to engage in this country's rigged electoral game, if at all.
In a time when the revolutionary left is numerically small, some socialist groupings have made a fetish out of participating in elections, local and national, in attempts to realise their ambitions of becoming the party of the US working class all by themselves. Others have made a fetish out of not engaging in any kind of electoral work for lack of a viable mass workers' party or else as a permanent boycott of the objectively pro-capitalist electoral system in the United States.
By Barry Sheppard
November 21, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Kshama Sawant, an openly declared socialist, was elected to the city council in a major United States city, Seattle, in November’s ballot.
You need to go back to the first half of the 20th century to find anything similar in the US.
The Indian-born Sawant ran as an activist. She first drew attention as part of the Occupy Seattle protests that included taking over a downtown park and a junior collage campus in 2011.
Occupy has faded as an organised movement, but many of those inspired by it have organised on other fronts. These include opposition to foreclosures, support for strikes and demonstrations by fast food workers, and opposition to coal trains coming through the Seattle area for Asian export.
Sawant has been in the midst of these actions. It was activists from such struggles who formed the backbone of her campaign.
A few days after her victory in the tight race was confirmed, the new city council member stood with Boeing workers rallying against the company. Boeing’s International Association of Machinists workers had voted down a concession’s contract by a large majority.
KEXP Interview with Kshama Sawant.
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal congratulates Kshama Sawant and US Socialist Alternative on their important and inspiring success in the Seattle City Council election.
* * *
November 15, 2013, Seattle, Washington -- Vote Sawant -- Today’s King County elections ballot count saw the Socialist Alternative candidate for Seattle City Council, Kshama Sawant, pulling further ahead of 16-year Democratic Party incumbent, Richard Conlin. The socialist candidate has now won 88,222 votes compared to Conlin’s 86,582. After today’s count was released, Richard Conlin announced he was conceding the race.
[Washington state votes by mail, and a majority of ballots typically come in after election day and will be counted until November 26 as long as they are postmarked November 5 or earlier.]
By the Kshama Sawant Campaign for Seattle City Council
August 8, 2013 -- Votesawant.org -- Seattle voters sent a clear message to an out-of-touch political establishment on August 6 that they are fed up with business as usual, and are looking for an alternative to corporate-pandering politicians like Richard Conlin. Kshama Sawant, who was recently written off by The Seattle Times as “too hard left for Seattle”, won a stunning 35% of the vote, a number that will likely rise as late ballots are counted.
[Sawant is a member Socialist Alternative, the United States affiliate of the small international Committee for a Workers International (CWI).]
A majority of primary voters voted against 16-year Seattle City Council incumbent, Democrat Richard Conlin, who despite a massive fund-raising advantage and name recognition, received only 49%. Sawant and a second challenger to Conlin, Brian Carver, won the majority of the vote in the City Council Position 2 race.
[Sawant will now participate in the two-candidate run-off election with Conlin to determine who takes the contested position.]
“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”, said Sawant.