I wear the badge of “socialist” with honor. I’m excited to see the growing support for socialism, with tens of thousands of young people getting active and many joining socialist organizations. I am fighting for a world free from poverty, oppression and environmental devastation. I believe this is not possible under capitalism, which is based on guaranteeing super profits for a handful of billionaires at the expense of ordinary people and the planet. Socialism is a society based on democracy, solidarity, rational planning and equality. That’s why I’m a member of Socialist Alternative. I hope you will consider joining us.
Our city, country and planet are faced with record levels of inequality and the alarming acceleration of environmental destruction. We have a bigoted billionaire in the White House who denies the existence of climate change and has gone to war against immigrants and oppressed communities. In this context, movements of ordinary people fighting for fundamental change are needed now more than ever.
That’s why it’s so important that millions of students and workers are organizing climate strikes globally and labor struggles are breaking out across the U.S.
Trickle-down economics won’t get us out of this situation. Corporations want to buy City Hall, and they already have a loyal servant in the Mayor’s office. Corporate candidates like Egan Orion say we need to to enable big developers to build more unaffordable, “market-rate” housing. But this won’t fix our housing crisis, just as putting our faith in big energy corporations won’t avert pending climate catastrophe.
Trump brags that “America will never be a socialist country." Yet a majority of Americans support Medicare for All, a federal $15 minimum wage, increased taxes on big business, and tuition-free college, and enthusiasm for socialist ideas is growing. Despite widespread support for bold progressive demands, these ideas are called “unattainable” by most elected officials. Why are popular policies not implemented? Because our system is dominated by a billionaire class which buys politicians from both parties.
Kshama Sawant stands in sharp contrast to the corporate-funded politicians and “revolving door” of lobbyists locally and around the U.S. Kshama only takes the average wage of a worker in her district, donating the rest of her salary to social justice causes, organizations and movements. She has spent her six years in office fighting unapologetically for working people and building movements to win historic victories. Her socialist city council office has set an example of the kind of elected representatives we need if we are to address the crises facing our city and society.
How Can We Change Society?
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” -Frederick Douglass, anti-slavery abolitionist
Throughout history, it has been determined movements that have won real change. Racist segregation was ended through the courageous Civil Right’s struggle, with marches, bold direct action, and a powerful ongoing movement. Our unions were built through strike action, factory occupations, and protests that took on the bosses. Victories for marriage equality required mass organizing, education, and militant action. In recent years, with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the new women’s movement, people organized protests to win victories and raise consciousness about the injustices in capitalist society. The powers that be have always called movements and their leaders “divisive” as a way to distract from the deep injustices in society, and to discourage ordinary people from getting organized.
Bold demands and a fighting strategy are necessary, just as much now as in the movements of the past. We need to build determined, united struggles to push back against corporate domination, racism, sexism, homophobia and environmental destruction. While building movements to win positive change in the here and now, socialists also recognize and point out that the capitalist system is the root cause of so many of the problems we face.
Socialist ideas are becoming more and more popular among young people and the working class. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are among the many self-described “democratic socialists” elected now in the U.S., and tens of thousands of young people are joining socialist organizations. Kshama Sawant is a member of Socialist Alternative, an organization fighting against all the injustices of capitalism and for a democratically planned, sustainable economy. Six months after Kshama was elected in 2013, when Seattle became the first major US city to win a $15/hr minimum wage, Kshama said: “You don’t need to be a socialist to fight for $15/hr, but it helps.” Find out more about Socialist Alternative, and join us.
Stand up to Corporate Bullying
Our demands must go beyond what is acceptable to corporate profits. This election shows that big corporations will fight tooth and nail to stop a progressive agenda. Corporate PACs are trying to buy this election.
Puget Sound Energy, the region’s biggest polluter, is spending tens of thousands of dollars to try to defeat Kshama and the Green New Deal. Amazon executives are spending $1.5 million to stop progressive taxation, and to try to force working and middle-class homeowners to continue to pay for this crisis. Vulcan, the region’s luxury developer, and WA Association of Realtors have spent nearly half a million dollars to try to stop rent control. We need elected representatives who will stand up to the corporate elite.
Our opponent says he will represent workers and doesn't take corporate cash. But his campaign is bankrolled by CEOs and wealthy Republicans and he both applied and interviewed to receive the unprecedented corporate PAC money backing his campaign. Anti-union right-wingers who altogether spent millions of dollars at the national, state and local level on Republican campaigns are paying for polls and professional doorknockers to try to convince you that their hand-picked candidate is a “progressive who can get things done.” We have to see through this and not allow big business to buy City Hall.
When we build movements to tax corporations, increase environmental regulations or strengthen workers’ rights, the billionaires threaten to cut jobs and move their business to create a “race to the bottom” for working people. We’ve seen this in the Seattle area with both Amazon and Boeing. We need to pose a clear alternative to these corporate threats that puts people and the planet over profits.
The for-profit system has failed us in health care, housing, energy and the big banks. We will need public ownership of the top 500 corporations under democratic workers control, planning and management, in order to run them in the interests of human need and sustainability. This can lay the basis for a new kind of society — a socialist society —based on solidarity, democracy, and cooperation, rather than the blind drive for corporate profits.
Accountability and Internationalism
Socialism can’t be achieved in Seattle alone, but we can build successful movements to win change here and now and inspire victories across the country, like we did with the $15/hour minimum wage. We can also get organized to win this election and show that socialist ideas are here to stay, whether Jeff Bezos likes it or not!
In order to win far-reaching change, we need a new mass party that takes no donations from big corporations, is linked to building movements, and has democratic structures to hold its leaders accountable. Kshama is proud to be a leader of Socialist Alternative, and she’s accountable to the ordinary people of District 3 and Seattle, not to the corporate elite who are trying to buy this election. We need more, not fewer, representatives like Kshama who are anchored to a democratic grassroots base, which is crucial to resisting the pressures of the corporate establishment. Kshama’s voice in City Hall gives a platform to workers, young and oppressed people getting organized to improve their lives and society.
This campaign stands in solidarity with working people and youth fighting against injustice worldwide. The global climate strike shows that we have a common struggle internationally, and that we can build a movement across the world for fundamental change. From Seattle to Puerto Rico to Hong Kong, ordinary people can get organized and lead the way forward. We can fight together to end the oppression, inequality, and injustice built into this rotten system.