Open Letter on the November 3, 2020 General Election – Seattle/King County

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As Election Day 2020 approaches, multiple crises are wreaking havoc across the country. The pandemic that has taken more than a million lives across the globe has triggered an economic crisis that will deepen, not resolve, in the months ahead. The consequences of global warming are manifesting more and more acutely. Political polarization continues to escalate, with protesters who are demanding racial justice facing violence both from police and white supremacists, egged on by Trump. And the blows are falling hardest on Black people, others of color, women, and poor people, as they always do.

In this tempest, the “lesser evil” argument is being promoted frenetically. The rationale is that Trump is just too dangerous to do anything other than vote for his Democratic Party opponent. The same case was made when Nixon ran, and Reagan, and the Bushes senior and junior.

Yes, Trump is more openly and crassly pushing the supremacy of the wealthy white elite than his predecessors. But it is precisely because the stakes are higher today that workers and poor folks cannot afford to give one iota of credibility to the Democratic Party and its ability to solve 21st-century problems. 

Substituting Biden for Trump will not restore the millions of jobs that have been lost, nor empower communities to hold police accountable, nor wrest stolen wealth out of the hands of the uber-rich, nor result in the forceful and immediate action needed to check the ravages of global warming. The Democrats have a long history of war-mongering and betraying the needs of working and oppressed people. And this is not fixable! They are wholly committed to the capitalist system, with all its inequity and barbarity.

The truth is, elections are a scam, propping up the illusion of democracy, which is actually denied to the working-class majority. And the longer workers continue to buy into this rigged game by voting for one of the two ruling-class parties, the farther off meaningful change will be. 

For this election, FSP has studied the platforms and records of the anti-capitalist candidates for president, and our recommendation is to write in for Jeff Mackler and union activist Anne Montague of Socialist Action (SA) as the best option. Their campaign demands, for example, disarming the police and cutting their funding; rebuilding poor neighborhoods and tribal lands under community control; creating a massive public works program at top union wages; reducing the work week to create jobs; ending all forms of discrimination against women and LGBTQ+ people; establishing free, universal, nationalized healthcare; building quality housing costing no more than 25 percent of income; taxing the rich; shutting down the war machine; and addressing the climate catastrophe by nationalizing big oil and agribusiness under workers’ control.

There are issues on which FSP disagrees with Socialist Action, including SA’s support for repressive regimes that are supposedly anti-imperialist, like Bashar Assad’s in Syria. But in this election, SA presents an independent, working-class vision worth backing.

Whatever happens on November 3, or in the upheavals that may follow Election Day, the explosive issues of 2020 will still remain, and neither of the twin parties of capitalism has any intention or capacity to solve them. It’s up to us who believe in freedom and a better future to join together to fight for them.

Ballot Measures

As we fight back against twin party trickery on the national front, there is still lots to be done in our local arena. This includes warding off attacks on sex education, making minor improvements to policing, and stopping the regressive tax train dead in its tracks.

Wash. State Ref. No. 90: Comprehensive K-12 Sexual Health Education – Accept

Let’s talk about sex. Or maybe not, since the right wing is once again trying to remove any discussion of that three-letter taboo from the classroom. What began as legislation designed to educate students on human biology, consensual relationships, and the scientific spectrum of sexuality has been turned into a battle over “family values” waged by the right wing who forced this referendum onto the ballot. The actors are familiar: a coalition of conservative religious groups calling themselves Parents for Safe Schools, the anti-abortion Human Life of Washington, and Washington State Catholic Conference. But added to the mix is the ultra-right Patriot Prayer, infamous for holding rallies that draw neo-Nazi street brawlers and “western chauvinist” misogynists. 

These opponents of R-90 claim that communities and families should be providing sexual education for children, not trained educators. This is despite the fact that any parent who disagrees with the curriculum can excuse their child from participating. In the end, this referendum is about much more than sex ed. It is about a woman’s right to choose, bodily autonomy, and sexual orientation. By trying to silence discussions among our youth, these right-wing bigots hope to put women, queers, and trans and non-conforming people back in their place. Accept this referendum to say “sex education is healthy education” and continue the fight for sexual liberation. 

Washington State Engrossed Senate Joint Resolution No. 8212: Authorize Fund Investment of Long-Term Care Services Funds – Vote No

Playing the stock market is not just for the “wolves of Wall Street.” Local and state governments also risk it all to gain further revenue generated by funds collected for the welfare of state residents. In Washington state, the constitution does not allow this kind of gambling with the exception of state workers’ pensions, the industrial insurance fund, and the trust for people with developmental disabilities. This constitutional amendment attempts to add the Long-Term Care and Family Medical Leave funds to the list of funds that the state government can play with in the stock market. We believe public funds are too valuable to be left up to the “boom and bust” of this roulette wheel, especially with economists predicting financial collapse in the near future. Vote no on this amendment. 

King County Charter Amendments

There are seven amendments to King County’s charter for consideration this year, four of which deal with reforms relating to the King County sheriff’s office. 

After a summer-long rebellion for Black lives sparked by the outrage at the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless more Black people in the United States, it is pitiful that these charter amendments are the best that the Democratic Party — which runs the county — can offer. Read below for the specifics. The real reform needed is an elected civilian review board in tandem with an independent prosecutor to establish some community control over the police, whose historical origins as slave hunters and strikebreakers should never be forgotten. 

Charter Amendment 1: Inquests – Vote Yes

Amendment No. 1 expands the mandate for inquests into deaths resulting from contact with law enforcement agencies to include non-commissioned and jail staff. It also provides public funding for an attorney to represent the victim’s family, giving them an opportunity to participate in the process, a battle many families have waged for years. This is a small step forward in demanding accountability from law enforcement agencies and gives poor and working-class families a better chance at finding out what happened to their loved ones when they faced the brutality of policing in this county. 

Charter Amendment 2: Disposition of Real Property for Affordable Housing – Vote No

One of the worst homeless crises in the whole country exists in King County, the richest county in Washington. This contradiction could be resolved easily if its wealth was taxed to build public housing for poor and homeless people. Instead, this charter amendment gives a break to developers by selling public property at less than full market value. Propagandized as an incentive for developers to build “affordable housing,” this amendment is just another corporate giveaway of public property, one which deepens the already corrupt relationship between real estate developers and county politicians. Instead, King County should immediately turn this public property into public housing. Turn this one down!

Charter Amendment 3: References to Citizens – Vote Yes

This is an easy one to support. Amendment 3 replaces the word “citizen” in the three sections of the charter with more inclusive language like “resident” or “public” or “member of the public.” Though only applying to the preamble, the section on the Office of Public Complaints and the code for appointments to the Charter Review Committee, it helps all who live in the county. No matter a person’s citizenship status, residents can file a complaint and help propose changes like this to the county’s charter, a welcome change. 

Charter Amendment 4: Office of Law Enforcement Oversight – Subpoena Authority – Vote Yes

This reform is a small step toward oversight of the King County sheriff. It gives the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) the power to subpoena witnesses and other evidence. OLEO would still remain an appointed agency with no real power to prosecute killer cops and put them behind bars. Its lack of teeth was made evident in the miscarriage of justice experienced firsthand by the family of Tommy Le, who was killed by a sheriff’s deputy in 2017. Working people, especially African Americans, need radical reforms to defend themselves against law enforcement, beginning with elected civilian community control over the police as mentioned above. For now, vote yes on Amendment No. 4.

Charter Amendment 5: Making the King County Sheriff an Appointed Position – No Position 

Returning the sheriff to an appointed position, rather than an elected one, is a hotly debated issue this year. Its supporters claim the change creates better cohesion within the sheriff’s department and closer accountability to county elected officials. Defenders of the elected sheriff method, including the Seattle Times, say that this amendment will destroy the office’s independence and its ability to target high-profile criminals. Is this the best they can do to curtail sheriffs’ abuse of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American, and immigrant people?! King County police violence protects capitalism and private property. Taking a position on this amendment is like voting on whether one’s executioner should be appointed or elected. A false choice and one that FSP cannot support either way. 

Charter Amendment 6: Structure and Duties of the Department of Public Safety – Vote Yes

Currently, the sheriff’s office is under the governance of state law instead of the county council. This amendment would change that to King County governance. This would permit the King County council to take actions towards police accountability such as instituting a ban on tear gas and chemical weapons, like the Seattle City Council passed this year. Amendment No. 6 is a tiny reform that would allow the elected county officials to enact changes like requiring mental health professionals to respond to distress calls instead of untrained, trigger-happy deputies. Vote yes for Amendment 6.

Charter Amendment 7: Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Family Caregiver, Military or Veteran Status – Vote Yes

Amendment No. 7 prohibits discrimination against family caregivers and on the basis of military or veteran status, in particular against those fired or not hired because of their sexual orientation. This is a perfect example of the legal loopholes bigoted bosses find to discriminate against the LGBTQI+ community. And it’s another glaring example of why we need a revolution to end the days of hunting down homophobic laws and practices one by one in the whole capitalist haystack of homophobia! Don’t think twice about voting yes on this measure.

Warning: Regressive Taxes Ahead!
King County and Seattle Tax Measures

You might feel like you are seeing double with the next two propositions. That’s because both are measures that add more to the tax burden of working people in order to provide public services. We are not turning our back on public need, but the city and county Democrats refuse to tax the extraordinary wealth of our area.

King County Proposition 1: Harborview Medical Center Health and Safety Improvement Bonds – Vote No

This proposition, if passed, would allow King County to borrow $1.7 billion in bonds to build improvements to Harborview Medical Center. It replaces an expired and much smaller levy from 2000 and would add $95 to $105 to homeowners’ tax bills annually, a nearly $90 increase from the levy that expired. In the middle of a pandemic, working-class people are expected to foot the bill for their own healthcare and hospitals while billionaires like Trump pay next to nothing in taxes but get round-the-clock care in lavish hospital suites. Our tax and healthcare systems are completely upside down. It’s time that the billionaire bandits paid their share. Tax the rich and nationalize the healthcare industry under workers’ control! And vote no on this proposition.

City of Seattle Proposition 1: Funding for Transit and Related Transportation Needs – Vote No

Proposition 1 authorizes a .05 percent sales tax increase on Seattleites in order to fund transit maintenance, fare reduction, and completion of repairs on the West Seattle Bridge. All of which are needed. But here’s the problem: sales taxes hurt poor and working-class people especially hard. The fact that every year we are forced to make another deal with the devil just to get basic public services is shameful and wrong. There is enough wealth in this city to have state-of-the-art transit, bus lines that make sense, and bridge repairs that don’t take generations to complete. Let’s start taxing the top and say “No more!” to regressive taxes.

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As the election approaches, the Freedom Socialist Party will be organizing to defend democratic rights for working people and continuing to fight for the socialist world everyone deserves. If you would like to discuss these issues, attend a study group or event, volunteer or get involved, please give me a call at (206) 722-2543, or stop by New Freeway Hall. Read more about us on our about page and on Facebook/FSPSeattle.

In solidarity,
Jared Houston
Assistant Organizer
Seattle/Puget Sound Freedom Socialist Party

2020 Election Recommendation Summary

Vote Socialist Action’s Jeff Mackler, President, and Anne Montague, Vice President

WA Referendum 90 – Accept

WA Constitutional Amendment 8212 – Vote No

KC Charter Amendment 1 – Vote Yes

KC Charter Amendment 2 – Vote No

KC Charter Amendment 3 – Vote Yes

KC Charter Amendment 4 – Vote Yes

KC Charter Amendment 5 – No Position

KC Charter Amendment 6 – Vote Yes

KC Charter Amendment 7 – Vote Yes

KC Proposition 1 – Vote No

Seattle Proposition 1 – Vote No

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