Open Letter on the November 2, 2021 Seattle General Election

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Dear Friend,

This election, the people of Seattle face deep-seated problems. Capitalism, already on shaky ground, is in a tailspin triggered by the Covid pandemic. In the most regressively taxed state in the country, the profits of the uber-rich soar while out-of-control rents and living costs toss more and more people into tents and RVs. 

But these dire straits have inspired resistance. Examples include the defeat of the anti-homeless, cold-hearted “Compassion Seattle” city charter amendment and the bold actions of essential health care workers like those at Cascade Behavioral Hospital, who have been stretched beyond endurance holding up the for-profit medical system. And let’s not forget the strike of union carpenters who can’t afford to live where they work or the campaign by King County employees to “Root Out Racism” on the job. 

As workers struggle through these times, we need candidates that name the system responsible: capitalism. Otherwise, those running for office promote the illusion that the profit-making structure can be reformed into socialism or even a kinder, gentler capitalism. This is not possible. The capitalist system thrives only by continuing to exploit the environment and those that do the work. 

The Freedom Socialist Party supports candidates that stand squarely on the side of the working class and against the profiteers who reap what workers sow. Unfortunately, there are not any explicitly anti-capitalist contenders on this November’s ballot, and we urge those who are running progressive campaigns to go all the way and openly advocate for socialism.

For bold, independent, and openly anti-capitalist voices

There are two candidates running in Seattle with progressive programs but closeted anti-capitalist ideals: Nicole Thomas Kennedy and Nikkita Oliver. The one open socialist on City Council, Kshama Sawant, is facing a recall campaign, but that vote will not be held until one month after the General Election on Dec. 7. 

Kennedy, a former public defender, is running for Seattle City Attorney. She favors decriminalizing sex work and prosecuting companies who steal employees’ wages, instead of the historical practice of targeting the poor. She also advocates overturning anti-affirmative action initiative I-200 to tackle inequality.

Oliver, a race and social justice community activist, is running for city-wide Position 9 on the Seattle City Council. They call for universal healthcare, taxing the rich and building housing to address homelessness, among other demands.

Unfortunately, neither candidate names the profit system as the root cause of what’s ailing most of Seattle. While many people support them because of their assumed anti-capitalist ideas, both candidates keep this perspective quiet in their public campaign materials.

Kennedy, with whom the FSP met to discuss her politics, is open about her desire to abolish prisons and the police (although she doesn’t unrealistically call for trying to do that overnight). But she does not call out the fundamental problem, a social structure that relies on those institutions to wage war on oppressed and working people. Oliver doesn’t mention socialism or capitalism anywhere in their platform, even though they are a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.

We encourage both candidates to be out and open politically and work with Kshama Sawant and other socialists to take on the powers-that-be in our region. By openly calling for socialism and collaborating they could accomplish a great deal. They could more effectively stand up to the red-baiting, racist, sexist character assassinations they are all facing (see the Seattle Times, Publicola and Q13 News). And their cooperation and solidarity could help lead to victories for the 99% in Seattle.

One step Kennedy and Oliver should definitely take is to endorse the Kshama Solidarity campaign and help fight her recall. Likewise, Sawant and her party, Socialist Alternative, should work with Kennedy and Oliver, as well as other groups, to build a broad, nonsectarian, democratic coalition to fight for rent control, more taxes on wealthy employers, homes for all, and rooting out all discrimination on the job.

Advisory Votes and School Levy

There are several Washington State Advisory Votes on General Election ballots. These appear each year thanks to a right-wing initiative passed in 2007 that requires the state legislature to submit a non-binding “advisory” vote on any bill passed that closed tax loopholes or raised revenue. But since advisory votes take place after the state government has passed a tax measure, they are nothing more than pricey opinion polls. Nonetheless, here are two we think are worth considering. 

Advisory Vote No. 36: Repeal

Last session, the state legislature passed a tax on all telephone lines to establish a much-needed hotline for suicide prevention and mental health services. Precisely because this hotline is crucial, it needs to be fully funded by the general fund, not reliant on another regressive tax that places the heaviest burden on the poor. 

Advisory Vote No. 37: Maintain

Washington’s many millionaires and billionaires now must pay a 7% capital gains tax on earnings greater than $250,000 from the sale of stocks and bonds. This is a drop in the bucket for the likes of Amazon’s Bezos and the other wealthy elite who use our state as their personal tax haven. Let’s keep this one and continue fighting for the rich to pay their fair share!

Highline School District – Proposition 1: Vote No

This property tax levy replaces an existing one and would be used to upgrade computers and technology in schools as well as provide training. While the taxation rate used in the renewal levy is slightly less than the last one, taxes will be higher because of the increase in the assessed values of homes.

Washington State has a constitutional mandate to fully fund public education, yet most districts rely on property tax levies like these to keep afloat. This system, besides hurting working and poor families and driving up the cost of housing, creates massive inequality in education funding between poor districts and wealthier ones. 

Highline School District, as one of the poorest in the state, is asking voters to tax themselves out of their homes to fund much-needed services in their schools. Students should be able to have top-of-the-line technology in their classrooms without that cost coming out of their families’ paychecks. 

The state legislature needs to stop passing the buck and tax profits to fully fund quality education for all. Struggling families have had enough.

* * *

A single election is not designed to bring about a better, saner and therefore socialist world, but building one is possible. And you can help!

  • Call to discuss these ideas, attend a study group or volunteer! Call 206-722-2453 or come by New Freeway Hall in Columbia City.
  • Subscribe to the Freedom Socialist newspaper, which currently has a 50% off sale through November 14! One year is only $5.
  • Donate to help us continue the fight! Donate online, via Venmo @Seattle-PS-FSP, or mail a check to FSP, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98118.
In solidarity,
Jared Houston
Assistant Organizer
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