At Seattle’s City Hall, District 3 rep Kshama Sawant’s highlight so far this year was overseeing the appointment of new City Light CEO in her capacity as chair of the energy and environment committee.
She has saved the fireworks for politics in the other Washington.
Sawant’s petition urging Bernie Sanders to run as an independent if he can’t claim the Democratic nomination has now garnered around 24,000 signatures:
You are fighting to win, and we support you. If billionaire interests block you from winning the Democratic nomination we urge you to continue the political revolution by running independently of the Democratic Party rather than endorse Hillary Clinton.
Your grassroots campaign that we have all worked so hard to build is too important to let its fate be decided by a rigged primary which involves only a small minority of voters. Running in the general election will reach tens of millions more people and can be the start of building a new political party for the 99%.
At the base of Sawant’s argument is her belief that Hillary Clinton and her party “act as a brake” on progressive movements:
In reality, Clinton is a perfect example of why I’ve consistently argued that the best way to win $15 at the federal level, Medicare for All, and free college education is by building an independent movement and our own independent political party of the 99 percent. History has shown again and again that establishment, business-backed politicians try to stop and derail the train long before they get on board. Again and again, they act as a brake on movements and on winning gains for workers until we are strong enough to overcome their resistance. And finally they try to rewrite a sanitized version of history with themselves in the driver’s seat.
In the same article, Sawant also criticizes the “Seattle’s Democratic establishment” for not originally supporting the $15/hour movement in the early days of the campaign. By the end of 2013, of course, both candidates for mayor said they supported the wage movement.
As for her support for Sanders, Sawant isn’t alone among her constituents around Capitol Hill. Washington’s Democratic caucuses produced large crowds and long lines — with a strong showing for Sanders on Capitol Hill. That support translated to delegatory victory across the 43rd District for the Sanders camp. But even the victory in Washington and other recent upsets leave Sanders nearly impossible “mathematical chances of winning the nomination.” Sanders is the longest-running independent in Congress… ever. Donald Trump and Sawant, by the way, agree on something — they’d both like Sanders to stay in the race. Whether he does — or joins a Clinton ticket — he’ll be up against this.
UPDATE: Democracy Now talked with Sawant about her Sanders support and the #BernieOrBust campaign:
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Kshama Sawant, let us begin with you, because you really started this whole Bernie or Bust campaign. Explain what it is.
KSHAMA SAWANT: So, I just wanted to clarify: Myself and Socialist Alternative, we did not launch the “Bernie or Bust” campaign. We launched what was called Movement4Bernie, Movement4Bernie.org website. But we are very much in sympathy with the sentiments that have been expressed by the people who have initiated Bernie or Bust, which is that it’s really kind of a bankrupt strategy to say that all the people, the millions of young people who have been politicized, you know, for the first time in their lives because of Sanders’s message of a political revolution against the billionaire class, should now all hunker down and support Clinton. And, you know, I think the analysis that we need to have really has to flow from some essential points. One is, this is a historic movement—moment, and a historic movement, really, since the Occupy movement. What we are seeing is a tremendous fundamental shift in American consciousness, and that is an anger against corporate politics and a desire to fight against the establishment.
In the interview, Sawant said she has met with Sanders about a possible independent run:
I have talked to him personally, yes. And I think that at this moment, as we all know, he has said that he will—he has indicated that he will probably endorse Clinton. And Clinton herself is, you know, understandably, talking about how his supporters need to support her.