Urge Kshama Sawant to endorse Prop. 1 for the $15/hr minimum wage in Tacoma.
Doug Nielson ·Tuesday, October 20, 2015
I sent the below email to Kshama Sawant and 12 members of her party, Socialist Alternative, and received no response. -feel free to forward as you feel appropriate-
Please Urge Kshama Sawant to endorse Prop. 1 for the $15 minimum wage in Tacoma.
Preface: "Criticism" and "sectarianism" are not interchangeable terms. Whenever there is a disagreement on the left a few people will quickly hurl the accusation of "sectarianism." Criticism may stem from sectarianism or it might stem from a principled political difference. "Critical support" is a very useful concept. It allows one to criticize something someone is doing without losing sight of what else they may be doing that one agrees with. I'm making this preface to underline that I think the criticism of Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative on the issue of Prop 1 in Tacoma is principled.
The core of the problem is Kshama Sawant's failure to endorse and support Tacoma's Proposition 1 which is on the ballot now. It's a question of solidarity. Those of us who have put effort into helping Sawant reach the highly visible position she now occupies, need to pay attention and make sure she fully represents our views. In a very real sense Kshama speaks for the left and the working class in Seattle, and should be held accountable to her base.
Lest anyone think I am playing some kind of political "gotcha" game, I will mention that I began my criticism quietly by talking to leaders within Socialist Alternative, but to no avail. I have email communications to prove this, but which, upon request, I will continue to keep confidential. I am not the only one who has approached Sawant and Socialist Alternative on this issue. I have gradually made my disagreement more and more public. As an ongoing strong supporter of Sawant, with a slightly reduced level of enthusiasm, I feel I have the right, along with every one else who supports her, to hold her to account.
Please don't assume some terrible motive for my voicing this concern. And please don't assume that I think Sawant has gone off the rails. I do believe that pressure from below is needed at this point in time, on this issue, to help her keep her balance in the political pressure cooker in which she operates.
The bottom line is that Kshama Sawant needs to feel pressure from below to get her to endorse Prop 1 in Tacoma. We can't let this division within the struggle become standard operating procedure in left politics in Seattle. And we can't eliminate it by pretending it doesn't exist. It will inhibit the growth of the working class movement. Everyone please ask Sawant to endorse 15 NOW Tacoma's Prop 1. She can, of course, include a critique along with her endorsement if she so chooses, but she needs to break the radio silence, and use her high visibility. At the very least, she needs to urge everyone within earshot in Tacoma to vote for the $15 minimum wage proposal on the ballot. If you agree with this statement, please take the time to let Kshama Sawant know. Maybe you can shoot her a quick message, in between door belling for her campaign. You can also simply hit reply to this email. Kshama's City Council address should then appear in the address line. It would be unfortunate for this dispute to leak into the mainstream press. A quick response, in the form of an endorsement statement from her is the best way to insure against this happening, or to mitigate it if it does happen.
I understand this issue of endorsement will be brought before the King County Labor Council on Wednesday. I would love to see Kshama come to this meeting as a delegate and lead the way in support of Prop 1.
-If you are receiving this email from me, it means that I have sent the above email to Kshama Sawant and a number of other Socialist Alternative leaders, and have waited 48hours without receiving a satisfactory response. (I actually received no response.)
-Don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.- Doug Nielson Former WFSE 1488 Shop Steward -retired Former organizer with Stand Up Seattle Strong supporter of Kshama Sawant