Though traveling, I eagerly awaited the Seattle election results on November 5th; all day I had a knot in my stomach and a sense of foreboding. “Is it possible they were in the end too powerful for her to withstand?” I asked myself. Hardly a psephologist and with no particular apparatus to gauge the effects of the Goliath versus David situation playing out in Seattle, I decided to simply deal with the discomfort and wait for the results.
Though they are not fully in as of this writing, it appears the knot was a justified one. As of the “morning after”, District 3 was indeed going against Kshama Sawant, a vocal and intelligent Socialist city council member who had won two terms and was seeking a third. Sawant is larger than life, dauntless and indefatigable. Sure, these statements are of opinion not fact and yes, I am a supporter and have been from the start. But, as I wrote in earlier pages of Countercurrents, here, her presence has been megaphonic, even tectonic in the Seattle landscape. From fighting for a $15 minimum wage to representing Seattle’s minorities with vigor, from taking up the cudgels for the homeless to hectoring Big Business for its excesses, Sawant has, irrespective of the outcome of this election, moved Seattle and shifted it –thankfully- Left.
Her critics are abundant and ably funded by Amazon.com, one of the world’s richest corporations, led by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person. The flood of election-changing money supplied by them and others appeared to help sway the populace into supporting Sawant’s opponent, Egan Orion who ran a campaign that focused, it appears, on vilifying Sawant. To do so, Orion indulged in thinly-veiled rhetoric suggesting that while he was “collaborative” that she was “ideological.”
Only in a curious world does being “ideological” count as an insult. One is forced to resort to hackneyed rhetoric to suggest that people like Gandhi, Mandela, Luxemburg, or MLK were indeed ideological and that precisely for these reasons are they so admired.
The tired Liberal rhetoric of “cooperation” and “collaboration” sounds great but is a fig-leaf for capitulation and cooptation. This is not a hard idea to comprehend or some abstruse formulation meant only for academics. This is a leitmotif for history– that once powerful entities decide to exercise their power, even in processes they should be walled off from, collaborators spring up like weeds, suggesting the true political intent of “collaboration” which is a euphemism for siding with power.
No matter the ultimate outcome, the initial results suggest a new “C” world- capitulation. One needn’t like Sawant personally or all of her policies, nor need one like her mode of speech or constant presence, but if these reasons cloud one’s judgment on what qualities create a real, functioning Democracy, then even those of us who vote ultimately abdicate our responsibilities to a city, country, and world that is breaking under the weight of Rightist ideology. That ideology will not be defeated by effete “cooperation” and lightweight Liberalism.
I do get a lift when I realize that whatever happens, Sawant won’t disappear. I look forward to her next steps.
Romi Mahajan in an Author, Marketer, Investor, and Activist