As the end of the year approaches, we here at Shift would like to share the Top 10 most absurd things Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant—who it’s often hard to distinguish from the typical liberal Democrat but is a self-proclaimed socialist—has done and/or said in 2014. Though, it was rather difficult to keep the list to just 10 moments… Enjoy!
- Sawant’s arrest at a protest in SeaTac over Alaska Airline’s push to block the $15 minimum wage. Sawant compared her “life-threatening” situation to “all the best activists in the past and in the present.”
- Sawant’s attempt, after being charged with disorderly conduct, to deflect blame. Rather than accept responsibility for breaking the law, the socialist claimed the “justice system is broken.” She said, “Why do workers face charges when they peacefully campaign for their rights, while corporate criminals go free? Our justice system is broken. As long as their movement continues, I will stand with workers in Sea-Tac.”
- Sawant’s call for a “militant” movement to stop global warming. Her words, “And what we were talking about last night was that this collective action needs to be channeled into a really radical, militant, nonviolent mass movement that will raise concrete political demands.”
- Sawant’s demand that the Seattle City Council send a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that the U.S. cut off military aid to Israel. When the Council refused, Sawant said the letter would only be from her.
- Sawant’s insistence that she is receiving media attention not because of the economic absurdity that is a $15 minimum wage, but because of the energy and passion exhibited by the movement she helped start…. And because “people everywhere are questioning the capitalist system.” According to Sawant, the Cold War gave Communism a bad name, but “a lot of people are rational today, especially the ones who weren’t around in the Cold War.”
- Sawant’s failure to understand how providing tax rebates to private developers who build apartment complexes affordable to lower-middle-class residents helps create more low-income housing options in Seattle. The rebate program produced 2,563 affordable units over the past 12 years, compared with Sawant’s preferred fee program’s 616. Yet, Sawant claimed that the tax rebate program meant that “the working people are paying while the developers are getting a [giveaway].”
- Sawant’s objection to Kathleen O’Toole’s appointment as Seattle’s police chief (Sawant cast the lone “NO” vote). Why? Because O’Toole dared to say she intended to run the police department like an efficient business. Sawant said, “Ms. O’Toole has said that she would like to run SPD like a business. By that she means she wants SPD to be efficient and accountable. While I don’t doubt her sincerity at all, that is troubling to me…”
- Sawant’s sponsorship of a measure to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day in Seattle. Her resolution stated, “The City of Seattle has a responsibility to oppose the systematic racism towards Indigenous people in the United States, which perpetuates high rates of poverty and income inequality, exacerbating disproportionate health, education, and social crises.” The City Council passed the resolution unanimously.
- Sawant’s highly inflammatory statements that perpetuated the general feeling of animosity toward Seattle’s police and businesses prior to the annual May Day protests. She said, “The corporations and the super-wealthy are celebrating billions in profits while the rest of us face skyrocketing poverty and inequality…And we are fighting back… We must rely on our own strength. The Seattle Police have an unfortunate track record of violence and cracking down on activists and using pepper spray indiscriminately…”
- Sawant’s failure to win the support of the King County Labor Council (KCLC) for her employee head and parking tax proposal. Why? Sawant passed out fliers supporting her new tax that were not made by a union printer, a strict requirement of the KCLC. Instead, in a lapse of socialist judgment, she went with the most cost-effective option.
BONUS: Though not a 2014 event, any list of the absurd things Sawant has done or said would not be complete without her call for machinists to take over Boeing after the union rejected a new contract deal. She said,
“The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do… We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines…We don’t need the executives; we need Boeing to be under democratic, public ownership by workers, by the community…Let’s redo the machines to build mass transit and help society.”