The City of Seattle just had its city-wide elections. Unlike most elections where voters had to choose between candidates all of whom represent the interests of the wealthy and big businesses, this election had a different voice. Kshama Sawant, a community college teacher and activist with the revolutionary group Socialist Alternative, ran for city council.
Sawant’s campaign made a number of immediate demands, including a $15 per hour minimum wage. She also called for a millionaires’ tax to return some of the wealth to the communities that produced it, and to fund education and social services that have been cut as working class communities have been forced to pay for the economic crisis. With this platform, Sawant’s organization mobilized a grassroots campaign, and she was elected with 56 percent of the vote. The support she received forced other candidates, including both mayoral candidates, to pledge support for a $15 per hour minimum wage in Seattle.
More importantly, Sawant’s campaign stood for a different kind of politics. In her speeches and in her writings, Sawant insisted that it is time for workers to have their own voice and stop looking to the corporate-funded Democrats or Republicans for representation. Sawant spoke openly about the need to build a working class party which will fight for socialism – a society without exploitation, organized to meet human needs, where industry, health care, transportation, and everything else is controlled by the people who do the work.