Meet Kshama Sawant, who is running for Seattle City Council:
…there is nothing particularly radical when it comes to the core of Sawant’s councilmanic agenda. Sawant was advocating for a $15-an-hour minimum wage a year ago, back before it was cool, before it was widely embraced by mainstream Democrats like US representative Adam Smith. As for the rest of her platform, at the risk of offending her, it is reasonable to say that on transit expansion, on building more affordable housing, on taxing the rich, on blocking coal trains, on expanding paid sick leave, on increasing civilian oversight of the police, and on many other issues, most of Sawant’s policy positions fit comfortably within the mainstream of Seattle’s progressive values.
…when it comes to the issues that might actually come before the council, Sawant can be downright wonky: On the campaign trail, she has advocated for universal preschool, city-sanctioned homeless encampments, principal reduction for foreclosure victims, and higher “in lieu of” fees to incentivize affordable housing in South Lake Union. Sawant supports a joint resolution condemning Russia’s anti-LGBTQ policies… and she opposes tougher panhandling ordinances. Some of her positions might place Sawant in the minority on the council, but rarely in a minority of one person.
Sawant is also pragmatic (boldface mine):
“I would consider any improvement in people’s standard of living a victory,” said Sawant when asked if she could accept, say, a $12-an-hour minimum wage. But “starting out from a weak position, that’s not good strategy” she explains. “Any chess player will tell you that.”
And electing her would help shift the Overton Window (boldface mine):
Absent [someone] like Sawant to anchor the left, it is progressives like O’Brien and McGinn who are ridiculed as extremists. And for what? Phone book opt-out, deep bore tunnel opposition, and defending the livelihoods of unionized grocery workers from low-wage competitors? But by widening the ideological spectrum, Sawant’s election would make this sort of absurdist red-baiting impossible, creating room for traditional progressives like O’Brien and Nick Licata to operate more effectively.
Oh, did I mention that Sawant is a socialist? Time was, Democrats, especially liberal ones, would fight for the above positions. They might want to try some of those positions on, see how they fit. Because once you get past tribalism, there are a lot of people who would support them.
And the congregation responds: This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.