Posted by Thomas Baldwin and republished from Clearing the Fog, April 6, 2015.
The 21st Century Socialism of Kshama Sawant
ClearingThe FOG interviews Kshama Sawant for a full hour. Sawant was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013 running with the Socialist Alternative Party. She previously was an adjunct economics professor and involved in social movements like Occupy Seattle and efforts to prevent home foreclosures. In her time in office she has galvanized the politics of Seattle, successfully spearheading a campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15. She is also an advocate for tenant rights, affordable housing, universal taxpayer funded healthcare and other progressive issues. When Boeing threatened to move from Seattle because of worker demands, she urged workers to take over Boeing’s facilities. She seeks to break the power of big business and the two big business parties, the Democrats and Republicans.
Clearing the FOG interviews Kshama Sawant for a full hour. Sawant was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2013, running with the Socialist Alternative Party. She…
Relevant articles and websites:
The Most Dangerous Woman in America by Chris Hedges
Seattle City Council Votes 9-0 to Oppose Fast Track by Stan Sorscher
Kshama Sawant is an elected Councilmember in the city of Seattle. Kshama is not a career politician. She is an activist who brings a passion for social justice to her work. As a member of the Seattle City Council, she has been a voice for workers, youth, and the oppressed. She only accepts the average workers’ wage and donates the rest of her $117,000 City Council salary to building social justice movements.
Kshama is a member of Socialist Alternative, a national organization in solidarity with the Committee for a Workers’ International, which is fighting for working-class interests on every continent.
Kshama was radicalized at an early age by the extreme poverty and inequality surrounding her in India, where she was raised. She was convinced that poverty is not inevitable, but a product of the system we live in. After working as a computer engineer, she came to the US to study economics in order to better understand the root causes of oppression and poverty. Upon arriving in the US, Kshama was struck by the inequality and poverty in the richest country in the world, which strengthened her conviction about the need for systemic solutions.
After earning her PhD in economics, Kshama moved to Seattle and began teaching at Seattle Central Community College, Seattle University, and the University of Washington Tacoma. She joined Socialist Alternative in 2009, and since then has helped organize demonstrations for marriage equality, participated in the movement to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was a leading presence in the Occupy Movement. Kshama has also been an activist in her union, the American Federation of Teachers Local 1789, fighting against budget cuts and tuition hikes.
In 2012, Kshama ran as a Socialist Alternative candidate for the Washington State Legislature and surprised everyone by winning 29% of the vote. The momentum continued in her campaign for Seattle City Council where she boldly ran an anti-corporate campaign on a platform of a $15/hour minimum wage, rent control and taxing the super-wealthy to fund mass transit and education. In November 2013, she defeated a 16-year incumbent Democrat to become the first socialist elected in a major US city in decades and the only Councilmember in Seattle outside the Democratic party establishment.
Kshama has consistently used her position to expose the ties between powerful corporate interests and a majority of the city’s politicians – all Democrats. After being at the forefront of the movement that won a $15/hour minimum wage, Kshama helped win critical funding for homeless people in the City budget last year. Along with housing activists and tenants, she spearheaded a campaign that successfully pushed back against a move by the political establishment that would have resulted in potentially devastating loss of affordable housing units. This year, her focus is on addressing the spiraling crisis in affordable housing in Seattle.
Kshama is up for re-election this year. Not surprisingly, big business and the city’s political establishment are expected to go to great lengths to try to defeat her.