For those BC students who live in Seattle, say hello to Kshama Sawant, Socialist City Council member-elect.
For those who have seen the imagery or heard the speeches surrounding the only Socialist member of the Council, it is apparent in the extreme that this new member of Seattle politics is looking to shake things up hard, even after election night.
Much ado has been made about the loud and divisive way Sawant has been approaching the other politicians she is to work with in the coming years.
She has consistently shown disdain for her co-members of the Seattle city council, as well as mayor elect Ed Murray who will soon replace current Seattle mayor Mike McGinn in office.
In Sawant’s own words about plans for the future, “We did not run this campaign to be yet another cog in the machine, but with slightly shinier moral credentials. We are here to make real change happen in a highly unequal society in which a tiny elite holds the power. So clearly you cannot be worried about them being against you, because they are going to be.”
For those who were paying attention on the most recent election night, it may have come as a shock to hear about the win that Sawant stole from her opponent Richard Conlin.
Conlin had been initially winning by a relatively large amount that slowly shrank as late and mail-in votes trickled in, proving something characteristic about Seattle’s culture: its lazy left-wing constituents are too busy smoking pot to do anything but wait until the very last minute to vote.
Among her campaign promises, the most controversial and most likely to succeed is her proposal to raise Seattle’s mandatory local minimum wage to $15 an hour which Sawant and her constituents believe is the minimum pay a person can receive from an employer and still live with dignity and fufillment in the place that they work.
$15 an hours is popularly known as a living wage. Surrounding this proposal are numerous others that only a socialist would have the balls to try to see through in the current money-ridden political climate, such as lowering the average rent and an increase in the taxes paid by millionaires.
Though some pundits call the movement as being anti-capitalist, I personally cannot see a better time in American history to attempt to blend the two aspects of business, where both the social capital and financial capital are protected and supported.
Sawant, in my mind, heralds a new, sexier age in Seattle politics, where idealism doesn’t always take a backseat to bureaucracy, political paradigms and corporate agendas.
As Sawant puts it, “These exciting results show a majority of voters are fed up with the corporate politicians.”