Who votes on Dec. 7? Seattle voters do when there is a big-money effort determined to remove the only open socialist from the City Council. Anti-left forces have managed to get a special recall election scheduled on this odd date in hopes that low voter turnout will aid their attempt to remove councilor Kshama Sawant.
Voters in her district, located in the heart of Seattle, must reject this reactionary attempt.
Initially launched in 2020, the red-baiting recall campaign used Sawant’s vigorous exercise of free speech during the Black Lives Matter Insurrection as the excuse to get her voted out of office mid-term. Her so-called crimes? Sawant spoke at a protest outside of Mayor Durkan’s home and led a march inside city hall.
But it’s her socialism that the Recall Sawant campaign really despises. To the power structure, Sawant’s unforgivable sin is to call out the for-profit system as the basis of the problems seen in daily life — like working people unable to live in the city they work in. And to try and hold politicians in both parties accountable.
In retaliation, an eclectic array of downtown business interests, law-and-order Democrats, pro-business gay activists, and Trump Republicans joined together in this attempt to oust her.
A member of Socialist Alternative, Kshama Sawant was elected in 2013. Her record includes fighting for poor people, low-income renters, and over-taxed workers. She led the $15 Now campaign that made Seattle’s minimum wage one of the highest in the nation.
Sawant’s office takes on greedy landlords who raise rents but refuse to fix their own buildings. Recently she called for the city to pay reparations for its racist treatment of New Hope Baptist Church and Black residents decades ago. Her office spearheaded the fight for a head tax on Amazon and other larger corporations in 2018. Although hastily overturned, the effort helped enact other measures that eventually increased taxes on Seattle’s many über-wealthy businesses like Google and Starbucks.
Over the years, the Freedom Socialist Party has taken issue with some of Sawant’s decisions. She often votes for regressive tax measures. She voted to confirm former-Police Chief Carmen Best. As a leftist who understands the reactionary role of the police, Sawant knew better. And while she and Socialist Alternative call for building mass movements, the results are often competitive endeavors that put them solely in the spotlight. This simultaneously undercuts their efforts and alienates other activists. But these are issues for debate among allies not removal from office.
Seattle cannot afford to lose an independent socialist voice like Sawant’s. It needs more elected leaders calling out the capitalist system as corrupt, pandemic prolonging and poverty inducing. More people explaining that a socialist society, democratically run by the working class, is the ultimate answer to these problems.