Many people these days talk about being “social warriors”. In Seattle, there is a young lady (45 years of age) who sits on the City Council, named Kshama Sawant. Kshama is the first socialist (the Socialist Alternative Party) to win a city-wide election in Seattle since 1916, when another woman (Anna Louise Strong) was elected to the School Board, and also the first socialist to sit on City Council in Seattle since A.W.Piper was elected in 1877. It would appear that identifying as a socialist in the American north-west, might not always be the best political strategy.
After winning the 2013 election, Sawant was able to claim a major victory in May of 2014, when Seattle’s Mayor Murray announced an increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour, which had been Kshama’s main campaign cornerstone. The only downside to it, and one that she was unhappy about, was that the big corporations were allowed a number of years to phase the increase in. But for her own part, Kshama stayed true to another (promise?) she had made, and in many circles, I think it is that promise on which her character is most often judged. Let me explain what I mean by that.
During her campaign, there was a currently-sitting councilman, Nick Licata, who though he failed (like every other council member) to endorse Kshama, did speak very positively of the young hopeful. He is on record as saying that “…(while) her eventual election victory seemed unlikely…”, he hoped that Sawant would not “…disappear after the election if she loses. She represents the poor, the immigrants, the refugees – the folks who are not in our City Council offices lobbying us.” The compliment, as you can see for yourself, is definitely what my mother would call “left-handed”, but it does show the fact that even those who wouldn’t openly support this woman, could not deny her sincerity, and good intentions. But this still doesn’t fully explain what I meant by her other promise.
You see, Kshama truly does, in her heart, represent those people that Councilman Licata mentioned, as well as the everyday working people of her city, and because she represents them, she would do nothing that would set her apart, or in any way above them, and if you think about it, that is the true meaning of Socialism – looking out for each other. So while she was running her campaign, soon-to-be Councilwoman Sawant promised she would donate the portion of her salary that she earned as a City Council member that exceeded the average salary in Seattle. It was on January 27th, 2014 that Councilwoman Sawant announced she would be living on $40,000 per year of her $117,000 yearly City Council salary. The remaining portion of her annual remuneration is put into a fund that is used for various social justice campaigns. And that’s the promise she kept that I think most people judge her character on, since so many folks I know are so fond of the old adage, “Put your money where your mouth is.”
So what is this young warrior up to today? Well, the good people of Seattle have returned the good Councilwoman to office, and she’s doing her best to keep the new President honest. She’s still trying (unsuccessfully so far) to get free transit for the poor and the disabled in her city. And she’s doing some journalism. In that vein, I’ve decided to close this article off with a link to her latest article in Counterpunch Magazine, entitled, “A Socialist Strategy To Defeat Trump” (I warned you she was a warrior). It’s actually an amazing article, and you can find it right about,
As for me, I’m still in the midst of getting things organized for my move on April 1st, and other than that, it looks like the bad weather here picked this week-end to go away for awhile. Therefore, as soon as I get this posted, I’m off into the great outdoors with my camera. Hope you folks are all safe and happy, and I’ll see you soon.
For those of you who would like to know a little more about councilwoman Kshama Sawant, here’s a link to the Wikipedia page I used for some of the facts and figures above. It’s as good a starting place as any.