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Seattle socialist announces new workers party

By Sarah May on
 March 4, 2023

Saturday marks the launch of a new political party, helmed by Seattle City Council member and avowed socialist, Kshama Sawant, who believes Democrats and so-called progressives in this country have moved too far to the center, as The Hill reports.

Having held her council post since 2014, Sawant announced earlier this year that she would not seek reelection but would instead devote her full energy to what is being called the Workers Strike Back campaign.

Party borne of frustration

As The Hill notes, the platform of the campaign to be spearheaded by Sawant calls for the fulfillment of a number of progressive priorities, including a $25 per hour starting wage, Medicare for All that is “owned and democratically run by working people,” universal unionization of workplaces, and what is referred to as “a new, multiracial, working-class party.”

In Sawant's estimation, the formation of a new political movement is necessary due to the failure of other self-styled democratic socialists to “stand up to the political establishment.”

Back in January, Sawant authored an op-ed for Seattle alternative outlet The Stranger in which she took direct aim at those alleged shortcomings, pointing specifically to the actions of purported progressives in Congress that helped thwart a national rail-worker strike.

Sawant singled out Democrat Reps. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) for particular scorn, calling their votes to avert the aforementioned labor action a “historic and shameful betrayal.”

“Capitalist class” decried

Speaking to what she sees as the broader need for the new party she is leading, Sawant heralded the notion that “when workers and young people get organized and fight, we can win.”

She went on to claim that “no meaningful progressive change can be won under capitalism without the vicious opposition of the rich and their political servants,” a group to which she believes too many Democrats are now paying fealty.

“A rapacious and parasitic capitalist class has amassed untold fortunes off the labor of billions of workers,” Sawant wrote. “But their system is in deep crisis, and it cannot sustain itself.”

Though she noted that since 2013, “more than two hundred self-identified “democratic socialist” candidates had been elected nationally,” Sawant lamented that “with rare exceptions, the overwhelming majority of them have abandoned their campaign promises and have failed to stand up to the political establishment.”

“Sell-outs” to blame

Again using the scuttled railroad-worker strike as an example, Sawant pointed to the likes of Jayapal and AOC as playing the role of “sell-outs” who produce “sinister consequences.”

The actions of congressional progressives, she claimed, offered “an opening to the right wing, as we saw with five Republican senators disingenuously voting against the strikebreaking bill, to pretend to be on the side of railroad workers.”

GOP lawmakers, Sawant contended, “who in reality nakedly service the interests of the wealthy, are being allowed to pretend their party is the party of the worker,” and the only reason that was possible, she added, is that “the Democratic Party is moving further and further right in their loyal support of the corporate elite.”

The entire situation, Sawant continued, served as a “frightening flashback to how [former President Donald] Trump won his election in the first place.”

Multi-city launch underway

Operating on the premise that “working people and the left cannot stand by and wait on so-called progressive elected officials,” Sawant urged her supporters to battle back against what she called “a vacuum of real left leadership, locally and nationally” by taking part in the March 4 campaign launch.

In addition to Sawant's hometown of Seattle, Saturday kickoff rallies were planned for Philadelphia, the San Francisco Bay area, Pittsburgh, Durham, Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, and Madison.

Sawant also noted that a video broadcast entitled On Strike will begin airing this summer “to bring socialist politics and strategy to working people nationally and internationally.”

Though Sawant's commitment to disrupting the political system as currently constituted is beyond dispute, the durable traction her brand of radical thought will ultimately gain is something that remains to be seen.