As we approach the upcoming election, the limited democracy we live in is at a crossroads.
The global pandemic has shown that politicians and corporations are unwilling to ensure the safety and well-being of those who do the work. Corporations raise prices above costs to rake in mega-profits on everything from gas to groceries. The Supreme Court has revoked abortion rights, is undermining voting rights for people of color, and could harm tribal sovereignty in an upcoming case. These are just some examples of privileges for the few at the expense of the majority.
In response, reformists are telling us to vote for “good” Democrats. But the Democrats are part of the problem because they belong to one of the twin parties of Big Business and have no genuine interest in stopping the attacks on working people. In a stark example from Washington State, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee has made logging part of his plan to fight climate change! [i]
The good news is that workers are fighting back and winning! Employees in the private sector have made incredible strides by creating brand-new unions, such as the ones at Starbucks and Amazon. Each of these unionization drives has inspired the next, and they are spreading across the country.
Washington’s “top-two” primary system often prevents third-party candidates from advancing to the general election and this leaves working-class voters with no anti-capitalist choices. This time, there are indeed none.
But there are ballot measures to vote up or down. Here is the Freedom Socialist Party’s Voter’s Guide, based on how each proposition impacts working people.
Washington State Advisory Vote No. 39
This is an advisory vote on a tax on aircraft fuel that was passed by the state legislature. Advisory votes do not change the law; their purpose is just to bring voters’ attention to new taxes the legislature passes and allow them to express an opinion. While we opposed these votes as useless when Tim Eyman got them on the ballot, now that they have been enacted, we might as well weigh in on the issues. The Freedom Socialist party recommends a vote to endorse this tax. Boeing and the airline industry will pay this tax over ten years to fund government spending. These corporations can afford it, making this a progressive tax that we can get behind.
Washington State Advisory Vote No. 40
Another advisory vote on a tax passed by the legislature, this one is on “transportation network companies” like Lyft and Uber, in order to provide workers’ compensation to their drivers. The Freedom Socialist Party recommends a vote to endorse this tax. All companies should be required to compensate their workers in the event of on-the-job injuries.
King County Charter Amendment No. 1
This charter amendment would move elections for county offices from odd-numbered to even-numbered years. The Freedom Socialist Party is not taking a position on this administrative matter. The amendment would put county elections on the same ballot as national ones and could increase voter turnout for county positions, but it does not increase real democracy. The same twin parties of the bosses will be on the ballot.
King County Proposition No. 1 Conservation Futures Levy
This proposition is a property tax used to buy open space lands in King County to protect them from development. While we support the idea of protecting open lands, this is yet another regressive tax that puts the burden on an already vastly overburdened working class. Living in Washington means enduring the most anti-worker tax structure in the country. With inflation making daily economic survival harder every day, enough is enough. Let’s tax the 1% to preserve public lands and solve a whole host of other chronically underfunded programs. Workers need a massive redistribution of wealth, not more taxes pushing us over the economic edge. The Freedom Socialist Party recommends rejecting this measure.
Seattle Initiative Proposition 1A vs. Proposition 1B
This ballot measure is to decide how primary elections for Seattle Mayor, City Attorney and City Council will work going forward. Not a simple up or down vote, the proposition asks voters to pick between three options, by answering two questions.
The three options are:
- Change Seattle elections to a system called “Approval Voting” (Proposition 1A)
- Change to “Ranked Choice Voting” (Proposition 1B)
- Leave things as they are
The Freedom Socialist Party endorses changing to Ranked Choice Voting in Seattle.
Ranked Choice versus Approval Voting
With Ranked Choice, voters rank the candidates with their strongest preference first, followed by their second choice, third choice, etc. If their first choice does not win, their vote goes to their second choice candidate, then their third choice and so on.
The contender with the least votes is eliminated in each round of tallies. This process continues until two candidates are left to compete in the general election.
Ranked choice allows third party candidates (like socialists!) to get more votes because supporters aren’t afraid of “throwing their vote” away if that candidate doesn’t win. If their first choice doesn’t make it, their vote will count for their second. While it does not break the stranglehold that Democrats and Republicans have on elections, it does open democracy up a crack. It is used in many parts of the country.
Approval Voting consists of voters approving as many candidates as they want without ranking them. The two candidates with the most votes move on to the general election.
A relatively new method in U.S. elections, the initiative that put this concept on the ballot is financially supported by a group of wealthy tech entrepreneurs. Proponents claim that Approval Voting will help keep “extremists” from spoiling elections for mainstream moderates. There is no data that supports this idea and Approval Voting is currently only used in two cities in the U.S., St. Louis, Missouri (since 2021) and Fargo, North Dakota (since 2020).
The liberals behind this measure, led by Logan Bowers, who ran against socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant in 2019, consider leftists to be part of the “extremists” they are trying to keep off the ballot and out of office.
Ranked choice voting is a democratic step forward, a better method than the current system or approval voting.
Ballot Titles and Questions
Approval Voting is entitled “1A” on your ballot. Ranked Choice Voting is option “1B.”
The ballot asks the Seattle voter to answer two questions:
- Should either of these measures be enacted into law? Yes or No
- Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be? Proposition 1A or 1B
FSP recommends a “Yes” vote on the first question and “1B” on the second.
Tukwila Initiative Measure No. 1 — Raise the Minimum Wage
If you live in Tukwila, you have the opportunity to increase the minimum wage to match SeaTac’s, which is currently $17.54 an hour. In neighboring Tukwila, a city that includes Southcenter Mall, it is $14.49. For reference, Seattle’s is $17.27.
The measure would go into effect in July 2023 for large businesses and be phased in for medium-sized ones. Employers with less than 15 workers would be exempt. Sounds good to us!
FSP recommends a “Yes” vote to raise Tukwila’s minimum wage.
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We hope this voters’ guide was helpful and informative. Give me a ring or an email if you want to discuss any of our ballot recommendations. I can be reached at 206-722-2453 or SeattleFSP@socialism.com.
I also invite you to stop by our meeting space and bookstore, Clara’s Books, at New Freeway Hall, 5018 Rainier Ave. S., Seattle. And do give me a call to discuss how to join the Freedom Socialist Party and get involved.
We look forward to fighting alongside you for social and economic justice via the ballot box and in the streets.
Doreen McGrath, Organizer
Seattle/Puget Sound FSP