The headline in mic.com ran: “Meet the Most Important Socialist in America Not Named Bernie Sanders.” It was about the impact of open Socialist, Kshama Sawant, who had just been reelected in a Seattle Council election. The article went on to say, “Sanders isn't the only socialist in the United States making a splash.
Kshama Sawant, a member of Seattle's city council since her election in 2013, has a tiny fraction of the name recognition of Sanders. But she's quietly been making an impact that is arguably just as important, having led the charge for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, which in turn sparked a national movement and has become a major litmus test for Democratic politicians.”
Sawant's 2013 victory sent shock waves through the Seattle establishment by unseating a seemingly entrenched Democratic incumbent to squeeze out a narrow victory. Over the next two years, the big question became framed as: was this a one-off fluke or would she be able to make a difference as a lone socialist, take on the local establishment and still get reelected?
The answer came as a resounding yes when the ballots were counted and Sawant came in with 56 per cent to her opponent's 44 per cent. So what had happened in the previous four years to allow this to happen and what lessons, if any, can be drawn for the Canadian left (whether that left is inside the NDP or outside)?