Saturday, November 16, 2013

Socialist elected to Seattle's city council

Bravo, I say.  Bravo.

Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant, a “Socialist Alternative” insurgent, has unseated four-term incumbent Richard Conlin, with the latest batch of mail-in ballots nearly tripling Sawant’s lead to 1,148 votes.

A year ago, Sawant was running against the Legislature’s most powerful Democrat, House Speaker Frank Chopp, charging that the “Democratic Party-majority government” had slashed billions from education programs while bestowing tax exemptions on “rich corporations.”

Hm. Sounds familiar.

While the Occupy Seattle organizer is about to occupy an office in the council chambers, ballots are still being counted in several close races.  One big ballot measure is still hanging, while other contests appear narrowly decided.

The $15-an-hour minimum wage proposal in SeaTac, already under legal challenge, leads by exactly 53 votes.  The margin was cushioned by 12 votes in Thursday’s count.

The proposal for taxpayer-financed elections in Seattle, Proposition 1, has climbed in the late vote count.  Unlike Sawant — who overcame a 6,193-vote election night deficit — Prop. 1 hasn’t quite climbed enough.  The “No” side still has a lead of 2,656 votes.

"Taxpayer-financed elections" is code for getting the money out of politics.  Repealing Citizens United and Moving to Amend as a city ordinance.  But pause for a moment and let that sink in: taxpayer-financed elections aren't quite as popular in Seattle as the Socialist about to be sworn in.

You may recall that Houston had both a Socialist and a Green running for mayor earlier this month, but they didn't fare quite so well as Council Member-elect Sawant (about 1% apiece).  My feeling -- well, my hope anyway -- is that continuing to offer alternatives to left-leaning Houstonians, Texans, and Americans is, at best and as this is written today, a tool to pull the Democratic Party back to the port side of the political equation, and if Democrats keep doing things like this then the trend will be inexorable.  You won't hear about it in the mainstream media, though.

Well, you'll hear some about it.

What a breath of fresh, pine-scented air.

This qualifies as bonafide progress. Honestly I thought cities like Berkeley and Portland would have been at the lead, but some will say that the Left Coast is all the same anyway.   Republicans in California, Oregon, and Washington must feel even more hopeless than Texas Democrats did in 2002.

My opinion is that this is the most effective answer to both the Tea Party and the creeping conservatism among establishment Dems; an actual progressive movement outside the center-left that threatens it just enough to make them see the error of their corporate ways... and change them.   It could be so much more with a groundswell of actual populism, here in Texas and across the country, but there are just barely audible rumblings about that.  I thought that was much closer to a real thing in 2006, but the election results that year proved me wrong.  And that was three years -- a political eon -- before the Tea Party birthed itself out of the raging spittle against "RINO" John McCain ... and the nation's first black president, Barack Obama.  (It continues today, of course, in the unrelenting assault on public health insurance known as the ACA.)

Read a little of this...

According a recent Gallup poll, Democrats and Republicans have reached an all-time low in public opinion--only 26 percent of Americans believe the two mainstream parties do "an adequate job of representing the American people." Some 60 percent said there was a need for a third major party.

In Seattle, where the Democrats predominate, this discontent translated into heavy press interest in Sawant. She won an endorsement from The Stranger before her strong showing in the August primary election--the alt-weekly wrote in an article headlined 'The Case for Kshama Sawant': "Sawant offers voters a detailed policy agenda, backed up by a coherent economic critique and a sound strategy for moving the political debate in a leftward direction."

After coming in a close second in August, Sawant continued to pick up broad support, including a small group of 'Democrats for Sawant' -- -a stark symbol of the bitterness with the incumbent Conlin, who has a long record of pandering to business interests....

As a socialist challenger in a liberal city against a Democratic opponent, Sawant was able to avoid one of the key difficulties that third party candidates typically face: the so-called spoiler effect. Without a Republican in the election, the Democrat Conlin wasn't able to browbeat his party's much more liberal base into supporting him as a 'lesser evil'.

More Greens and more Socialists on the ballot, please, in 2014.  Voters want -- and democracy needs -- more than two corporate-controlled options.

Update: Kshama Sawant talks to Salon.

President Obama told the Business Roundtable – speaking of “the capitalist class” – in his first term that he’s an “ardent believer in the free market,” and that he sees three roles for government: to create rules for a level playing field; to provide things that individuals can’t do for themselves; and to provide a social safety net. What do you make of that kind of politics?

First of all, I think Obama is being quite honest … he believes in capitalism. And so for people to have the faith that he is going to really fight against those ideas … there is no basis in reality for that …

I would say that the “free market” is basically free for the super-wealthy, and extremely un-free for the rest of us. Because they dictate the terms. And so this idea that the free market can generate conditions where social programs can thrive and a level playing field can be created — it is an oxymoron. Because what the capitalist market does – and that’s what they call the “free market” – is that if you are a big player, like one of the oil companies, then you are in the best position to consolidate your wealth even further … One of the systematic, statistical realities under capitalism is intergenerational transmission of wealth and intergenerational transmissions of poverty …

I often ask my students, “What do you think is the best way of making money under capitalism?” They often give me interesting answers, like maybe [creating] an app for an iPhone … I tell them, “Look, the best way of making money under capitalism is to have money in the first place” …

You also hear people saying, well, it’s “crony capitalism” or it’s “disaster capitalism” or some other capitalism. Well, the fact is, you know, they’re all dancing around [that] this is capitalism …

It’s not built into the system that the goal is to ensure that socially responsible life is possible. The goal is to maximize profits for those who already have wealth …

The reality is that capitalism rewards the biggest corporations and it tends toward monopoly. That is what capitalism is.

Every time you hear some pathetic conservative say "BrockObamaizaSoshulist", remember that -- as of this post -- the stock market has reached several consecutive days of record highs, and gasoline is $2.79 a gallon in Houston. So Obama is obviously a very crappy socialist.

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