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The New York Times has this fairly lengthy story about Kshama Sawant, who was elected to the Seattle city council last month and who ran as a member of Socialist Alternative. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.
After a couple of years on the Seattle city council it might be best if Ms Sawant not to seek re-election to that body. I say that for two reasons. Last May while campaigning she noted that the appeal of a Socialist Alternative candidacy is the contrast with major party candidates which seek to advance “stellar” careers, unlike the appeal of a campaign that understands the candidate as incidental so policy objectives can be focused upon. It would be better to see emergent Socialist Alternative candidates replicate electoral victory to underscore the movement’s strength and validate Sawant’s point about the incidental nature of the party’s nominated candidate and more about the barriers to better public policy that are the channels from which straightforward leadership
pours out of, over that of the ultra-sophisticated skillset of a bona fide politician.
Also, Ms Sawant hasn’t spoke at much length about lectoral rules and arrangements that weigh heavy outcome-wise. Ms Sawant benefited from an all-seats-at-large system as that system demands from voters what Seattle voters are inclined to supply: Diversity. Seattle voters could never get as much of it as they wanted but will find the new single-member districts system a mandated particular sort of confining diversity that will include its own paradoxically uniform drawbacks.
It is even more challenging to keep the focus on those political/economic actors that exercise unchecked power when the electorate is even more localized than city-wide, with even more voters believing their sole neighborhood non-partisan representative or ombudsperson can’t spend much time with a message that is relevant to all and may spend the political capital necessary to channel resources to that corner of town.
Ms Sawant should seek statewide elected office after her term is up, but only after she gets Washingtonians to adopt ranked-choice voting so a candidacy such as the one she might carry the flag for would allow voters the option of casting their votes for candidates that have perceived viability issues without wasting their votes. It would help her. It would help us all.
I think that your thinking is about 100 years behind the times, Larry. That would put the candidate for which you speak much further, probably 150 years. It is cute that you touch on ranked choice voting but it’s a case of too little too late. Everyone around here is only interested in single-winner power grabs, not so much coordinated in some sort of unifying direction.
Maybe so James, maybe I’ve spent a little too much time researching Anna Maley’s 1912 Socialist campaign for Washington Governor. Maybe bridging the cold, indifferent and disparate realities of voters with the sense of a much more just proposed political unit without forfeiting a lot of credibility is just so hard, it shows.
Maybe I should angle for a special appointment to a body of forthright public servants who know a thing or two about how political representatives will be generally selected decades from now, assuming the subject ever comes up for widespread discussion. Maybe I could get a commission as a General in the Proportional Representation Army. Maybe (head snaps back from daydreaming) I could ask what real-world Councilmember Sawant would recommend.
Larry, we’ll be more than happy to elect you to the World Socialist Party virtual board of directors. General Secretary Art Kazar [Socialist] and myself, the Equality Chair James Ogle [Free Parliamentary], really need you there since we have only 2 of the 5 executive seats filled.
Art is very active on the Socialist Party USA – Open Forum facebook page:
Larry, if you accept the seat, that will help us. When you click on the icon which says “Bylaws” in the virtual boardroom sketch below, the proposed twelve rules state that three executives must be elected before we elect Directors, so we’re bogged down. You can help, and we’ll help your run for president too. We’re already working with 44 POTUS (POTUS=president of the United States) candidates for 2016, although many are not very active and their names are hanging on from 2012:
I think at the moment the challenge for Councilmember Sawant is to not become subsumed into the liberal dominated task for the mayor created to study raising the city’s minimum wage (Mayor-ekect Murray has stacked the task force with liberals and business interests).
Actually, if you look at the returns precinct by precinct, Ms. Sawant has great voter strength, based on primary and general vote returns for her 2012 state legislative race and this years City Council race, in the district she currently reisdes in.
If she can survive the district-based election in 2015, I would like to see her challenge Adam Smith for the US Congressional seat I am pretty sure she is resident in.
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Contact Richard Winger:
P.O. Box 470296,
San Francisco, CA 94147
P.O. Box 470296,
San Francisco, CA 94147
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