In his State of the Union address last night, Trump said that “America will never be a socialist country.” We, along with millions of American workers, completely disagree. Since 2013, when Councilmember Kshama Sawant was elected as the first socialist member of the Seattle City Council in a century, the hunger for an alternative to pro-corporate, pro-capitalist politics has only grown. A recent Gallup poll found that less than half of young Americans view capitalism positively, down 20% since the beginning of the 2008 financial collapse.
In 2016, Bernie Sanders’ democratic socialist presidential campaign had a profound impact on the political discussion in the U.S. Since then, the Democratic Socialists of America has grown nearly tenfold and last fall, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib were elected as self-identified socialists to the U.S. Congress.
American workers and young people are rising up against corporate politics and capitalism. In the three years since Trump’s election, we’ve seen the biggest days of action in U.S. history. From the women’s marches, to the airport shutdowns against Trump’s anti-Muslim ban, to a resurgence in labor struggle with the #RedforEd movement, we’ve proven over and over again: when working people get organized, we can beat back racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-worker attacks.
With Trump calling in his speech for increased “bipartisanship” to fund his racist border wall, we should be clear about what really caused Trump to retreat on the government shutdown and what type of approach will be needed to stop his attacks. Under pressure from below, the Democrats refused to accept his demand for wall funding, but they were in no way prepared to mobilize the forces needed to win that fight. Ultimately, it was the threat of working-class action from TSA workers and air traffic controllers that forced Trump’s hand.
We also can’t forget: last year, when DACA was under attack, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said they would consider billions in funding for a border wall in exchange for protecting Dreamers. And while it’s positive that Democrats pushed back this time, we should be clear that fighting Trump can’t mean throwing one section of the working class under the bus to protect another. This actually feeds into Trump’s “divide and rule” agenda.
Instead, what’s required is building movements alongside working people against the Billionaire in Chief. That’s why Kshama Sawant called for the need to resist Trump from day one, and her organization, Socialist Alternative, organized protests that helped bring out hundreds of thousands of people immediately after his election. That's why we worked alongside other activists to organize mass nonviolent civil disobedience at SeaTac against Trump's racist Muslim ban, with 5,000 people shutting down the airport and helping to block the ban.
In the era of Trump, we need elected officials who will build fighting movements against Trump’s bigoted, billionaire-backed agenda to defend those in the crosshairs of his attacks.
Last night, Trump bragged about the state of the economy, pointing to raises in wages and conveniently leaving out the fact that one of the only reasons for raises amongst the lowest paid workers was our successful struggle for the $15 minimum wage – spearheaded by Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative right here in Seattle in 2014.
Trump also claimed credit for a “massive tax cut for working families.” In reality, his tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the super rich and gives major handouts to corporations and his billionaire buddies while slashing social programs. In a world where six billionaires have accumulated as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, these tax cuts make the super rich even richer at the expense of growing hardship for working people.
Nowhere is the failure of “trickle-down economics” more apparent than right here in Seattle. The world’s two richest billionaires live in King County at the same time that working people, small businesses, people of color, and LGBTQ people are being rapidly gentrified out of our city. Our transportation systems, schools, healthcare, and other vital social services have long been at the breaking point, while Amazon threatened to take away 7,000 jobs over a small tax on big business only last year.
We stand with other socialist politicians like NYC’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in calling for a 70% tax rate on the super rich nationally, and we think we need bold action to eliminate these gross inequalities right here in Seattle. Our city has been the national leader in the number of construction cranes three years running, yet the crisis of affordable housing in Seattle remains among the worst in the country, with the average rent now over two thousand dollars a month.
We need rent control and a massive expansion of social housing – paid for by taxing Amazon and big business – to provide an alternative to the broken private development system.
With unprecedented environmental disasters becoming the new norm and climate change getting worse, Trump’s fossil fuel friendly approach – boasting about how the US has ramped up up production of coal and natural gas – will impact working people hardest. That’s why we’re fighting for a Green New Deal with a just transition for all fossil fuel workers – to make Seattle 100% renewable by 2025, with a free, world-class mass transit system in Seattle.
Because unlike Trump and the billionaire class, we know that a socialist America and a socialist world is possible. The fight for a different kind of society, based on the needs of working people and the environment, is one of the many reasons you should join the grassroots movement to re-elect Kshama Sawant.