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Can a Socialist unseat the powerful Democratic Speaker of the House?

It may be an only-in-Seattle question. But Frank Chopp faces a Socialist Alternative challenger following Kshama Sawant's example.
Frank Chopp

Frank Chopp John Stang

Jess Spear

Jess Spear John Stang

The 43rd Legislative District (click to enlarge)

The 43rd Legislative District (click to enlarge) Wikimedia Commons

The Lenin statue in Fremont, in the heart of the 43rd Legislative District.

The Lenin statue in Fremont, in the heart of the 43rd Legislative District. Martin Deutsch/Flickr

It's the ultimate outsider versus the ultimate insider. The Socialist versus the Speaker of the House. Jess Spear versus Frank Chopp.

On paper, the state legislative race in Seattle looks like a mismatch. Chopp is the most powerful lawmaker in Olympia, the longest serving House speaker in Washington's history. The question is whether Spear is more aligned than Chopp with what the people of the 43rd Legislative District really want to be done in Olympia.

Is she the Socialist version of shoestring-budget Tea Party candidate David Brat, who upset U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a recent Virginia Republican primary? By coincidence, Spear's undergraduate degree is from Virginia's Randolph-Macon College, which is where Brat is an economics professor.

Seattle's 43rd District consists of Capitol Hill, the U District, Wallingford, Fremont and a part of downtown Seattle. It is arguably the most liberal chunk of land in Washington, despite the presence of Broadmoor, the only Seattle neighborhood to vote for Mitt Romney in 2012. It's Washington's smallest legislative district geographically. The most densely populated. Fewer school kids than most legislative districts. Stocked with three full-fledged universities. Lots of professionals. Home of the well-read, ultra-liberal weekly The Stranger.

Is this a bloc of voters that prefers having a legislative chess master playing an incremental, long-range game in Olympia? Or is this a voting bloc frustrated with Olympia's lukewarm response to the 43rd residents' brand of liberalism, and eager to shake things up with an experiment?

Spear's plan as a legislator would be to downplay negotiating directly with Republicans and moderate Democrats. Instead, she envisions creating grassroots groups in moderate and conservative districts to apply constituent pressure on the other legislators. "We need to think out of the box to get things done in Olympia," she said Rather than sitting at tables to talk with other legislators, "I'm talking about rallying and community organizing in their districts." 

Dominic Holden, a political writer for The Stranger, said many 43rd District voters are frustrated with the deadlocks in Olympia on education, transportation and other issues: "Frank Chopp is not bringing home the policies they support." Of Spear, he says, "She can offer something Frank Chopp can't — change.“

Spear is a protégé of Kshama Sawant, Seattle's high-profile Socialist Alternative city council member and a sparkplug for the successful $15-an-hour minimum wage movement in the city. Sawant ran against Chopp in 2012 and got creamed, tallying 28 percent of the vote to Chopp's 72 percent. But that campaign made Sawant known. And in 2013, she rode her $15-minimum-wage campaign to squeak out a win over longtime city council member, Richard Conlin.

"Now we've established socialists and the Socialist Alternative party as a legitimate political force," Holden said.

But Sen. Jamie Pedersen, who also represents the 43rd District and is a Chopp ally, noted that the area has a high percentage of professionals and well-to-do residents — not the types most likely to buy into a socialist message. And he speculated that Spear's go-it-alone-in-Olympia style could easily backfire in the Washington House. "The Legislature is a team activity," Pedersen said.

In fact, Spear was ambivalent when asked if she would try to caucus with the Democrats in the House, if elected. Spear said she would meet with Democratic legislators on some issues, but was hazy about understanding the concept of the routine caucus meetings held by Republicans and Democrats in Olympia for briefings, internal debates, vote-counting and strategy sessions. The Stranger's editorial board, which includes Holden and also strongly supports Sawant and her Socialist positions in Seattle's politics, recently endorsed Chopp for re-election, contending that Spear's style would not be effective in a House full of Republicans and moderate Democrats. However, several Stranger writers (not including Holden) published an opposing opinion piece that endorsed Spear, arguing Chopp is not moving the Legislature fast enough in the direction favored by 43rd District voters.


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Comments:

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 8:10 a.m. Inappropriate

I was minded to vote for Chopp until seeing a simple slogan on a Spears sign: "We Need Rent Control!" As a renter living on Capitol Hill--and one, by the way, who's lost 2 homes over the years because of rapacious rent increase strategies on the part of landlords--, I have long resented the fact that Washington has a state law (adopted in the early 1980s) which prohibits rent control throughout the state. And yet, even though Democrats have basically been in charge of the state for the last quarter century, nothing has been done to rescind this odious law, which makes it impossible even to discuss caps on rents at the local level. (I mean, what's the use of even considering such policies if you know in advance that a state law bans them?) And tell me if I'm wrong in thinking that our 'powerful' leader--my state Representative (most of whose constituents are renters)--has never done a thing to change this! With that consideration, I am now minded to vote for Spears in the Primary Election and to see what happens before deciding how to vote in the General.

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 11:09 a.m. Inappropriate

"Even though Democrats have basically been in charge of the state for the last quarter century."

This is a complete myth.

For at least nine of years in the last quarter century, the Republicans controlled at least one chamber of the Legislature, and for two years the Republicans held majorities in both the House and the Senate; in many of the years when the Democrats held both chambers, their 'control' was tenuous since there were DINOs like Tim Sheldon in the Senate who consistently voted with the Republicans.

http://ballotpedia.org/Ballotpedia:Who_Runs_the_States,_Washington

Posted Sat, Aug 2, 1:49 p.m. Inappropriate

Right. That's what "basically" was the correct word choice.

Sometimes the Democrats had all the power, sometimes most of it, and for two (of 25) years the Legislature was Republican while the Governor was a Democrat. Basically, that's Democrats basically in charge, looking at the era as a whole.

simorgh

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 10:43 a.m. Inappropriate

Alright, I erroneously pluralized "Spear" in my previous post--no doubt because of my obsession with Britney. (Thank gods the Socialists don't have to run a write-in candidate!) And if Ms. Spear should decide to go negative in this campaign, I recommend the slogan "Chop Chopp".

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 3:25 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm a young, progressive lefty. I voted for Sawant last year. I spent years in college practicing direct action, focusing on queer equality. And I support Frank Chopp.

I respect Jess Spear's energy. She's a great organizer, and she'll be a more powerful voice outside the glass tower of government than inside it. She hasn't shown an understanding of how politics works. As Sen. Pedersen said, legislating is a team activity. You need 75 votes to get anything done (50 in the house, 25 in the Senate).

She's destined to be completely ineffective. And if she were running against a staunch Republican, that might be ok. But she's running to replace the most powerful and effective progressive voice in the state, and one of our most valuable strategists. Her election would be a detriment to our progressive agenda. So I'm proudly voting Chopp.

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 4:11 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm an older, progressive lefty, and I'm in total agreement with your analysis. (Aside from being an active Democrat and friend of Frank.)

Spear should have started right in campaigning for City Council District 4 if that's her real goal. Running against Chopp now greatly reduces the chances that many Dems will help her like we did with Sawant v Conlin.

louploup

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 4:21 p.m. Inappropriate

"Rent control" benefits you and no one else. But like most things of the Left, it is repackaged into something for the supposed public good. It may seem great in initial promise but inevitably socialism is not freedom, not choice, and not growing and sharing. Its denies economic freedom and thus constricts individual, political freedom. Socialism makes more misery and poverty.

Has Sawant ever explained why she came to the US and not an already socialist workers paradise?

YaelLopez

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 5:57 p.m. Inappropriate

Hi bencrowther,

It's true, and splendid, that you were a "progressive lefty" when you voted for Socialist Alternative's Kshama Sawant, the 99%'s candidate, in 2013.

But how can you possibly claim to remain so if you now kowtow to the capitalists and vote for their "retrogressive righty" candidate Frank Chopp?
:)

The guy who, in concert with Inslee, outrageously gifted Boeing $8.7Billion of our money? -- and next thing you know, Boeing's stolen the machinists' pensions!
The guy who's funded to the hilt by BNSF of Lac-Megantic oil-train-bomb infamy, a holocaust avoided only narrowly last week by Seattle?
The guy who prattles from time to time about the housing crisis, yet won't even introduce legislation to let cities impose rent controls?

JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now is the candidate you should vote for, fight for, and help build a massive independent working-class campaign around.
Jess has earned her spurs in battle:
-- as director of Kshama's victorious 2013 Seattle city council run.
-- and as director of $15Now spearheading (no pun intended!) the magnificent relative triumph in Seattle of the $15 minimum-wage struggle.

Whereas Frank Chopp, and senator Pedersen as well, didn't even bother to attend the 2014 Seattle LGBTQ parade, did they?
Jess Spear (and Kshama Sawant) and Socialist Alternative attended, of course:
http://www.votespear.org/jess_spear_marches_at_gay_pride_2014

How in the world is Jess Spear "destined to be completely ineffective" in Olympia?

Instead, consider how Kshama Sawant, Jess Spear, Socialist Alternative and $15Now became a driving force in the magnificent, largely-victorious Seattle $15 fight:

Not by kneeling before some retrogressives-who-pretend-to-be-progressives in Seattle city council.

Instead, by helping to create and give leadership to a mass movement fighting for it!

Even though Kshama is the sole socialist in the Seattle city council, she, $15Now, the low-waged workers and the workers' movement imposed their agenda on the mayor, the corporations and their council cronies.

So much so that said cronies had no choice but to pass $15 into law.

A magnificent victory! -- even though the cronies did manage to claw back some carve-outs for their corporate masters.

An invaluable lesson: Create mass movements, and we can fight the capitalists and win better living conditions!

That's precisely the approach Jess Spear will take if she unseats the "Boeing-and-BNSF Blue-Eyed-Boy" Frank Chopp -- with your help.

Just as Kshama did in Seattle city council, Jess would use her legislature position as a platform, a megaphone, a bullypulpit, to help build and lead mass movements to fight for our class, the working class, the 99%.

Suppose millions of workers supporting $15Now surrounded the WA legislature to demand the passing of a WA-wide minimum-wage law.
Only those capitalist legislators contemplating political suicide would then oppose it, at least openly.

Furthermore, voting for Jess Spear is one small practical step you can take in defending your sisters and brothers around the world, such as those being bombed to pieces today in Gaza.

Because a victory for Jess Spear will truly be "a shot heard round the world".
Enthusing workers everywhere on the planet to take the battle to "their" oppressor governments.
Because, "Hey, if our sisters and brothers can win in the US, in the belly of the beast, in the major city of Seattle, why can't we in our own hometowns!"

In addition to voting for Jess Spear, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party -- join it, build it, influence it.

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 6:11 p.m. Inappropriate

The Democratic Party is not monolithic. In cities like Seattle, Democratic organizations like the 43rd District Democrats are considerably to the left of the national party. If you want to have an impact and build a movement for democratic socialism (and if you don't include the adjective, forget it), I suggest you learn the difference and start working with local Democrats more. Sawant knows who helped her get elected.

It would also be helpful if you would acknowledge the difference between the Seattle City Council and Washington State Legislature. If a S.A. candidate like Jess Spear ran for and won a seat on the City Council, assuming Sawant retains her seat, you could enter 2016 with 2 votes out of 9. Compare that to 1 seat out of 98 in the State House (not counting the 49 in the Senate), with neither Republicans nor Democrats inclined to pay much heed to the S.A. caucus of 1.

Attacking Frank Chopp, again, is not a great strategic move to build your base in Seattle.

louploup

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 10:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Frank did attend the Pride Parade. He also received a higher score by SEAMEC, the queer endorsement org, than Jess Spear (he was rated a 5-Demonstrates Leadership, she was rated a 3-Adequate). As a queer person my choice is strongly for Frank Chopp. He's the ally I want in the legislature.

Your comment demonstrates why socialists are so rarely taken seriously--because they are unable to make friends, even with those who would otherwise be on their side. Calling my honor into question, calling me a cowardly opportunist. That doesn't make me want to associate with you, your party, or your candidate.

Posted Sat, Aug 2, 1:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Socialistworld:

What in the world are you talking about? You make no sense.

By the way, did you use campaign funds to bail her out of jail for her political stunt? Might be worth checking; I wouldn’t mind staging one myself.

JS

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 6:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey louploup,

Your statement "in cities like Seattle, Democratic organizations like the 43rd District Democrats are considerably to the left of the national party" is a completely absurd and irrelevant argument.

As absurd and irrelevant as if someone were to say "Hindenburg was considerably to the left of Hitler; Hitler Bad, Hindy Good!".
:)

The point is to create and build, through relentless struggle, a mass working-class party and movement, ideally with a socialist programme and leadership -- independent of all the capitalists' parties.

Like what Eugene Debs temporarily achieved a hundred years ago, but even better!

The capitalist class, even within one country, is not monolithic.
Neither is the capitalist class's parties, which in the US are the Republican and Democrat parties.

Capitalism in our epoch is not progressive but extremely retrogressive.
Wars.
Unemployment.
Starvation -- one human being dying every 2 seconds of preventible causes.

Being a party of the capitalist class, the Democratic Party is likewise not progressive but extremely retrogressive.

I mean its leadership, every one of them, regardless of whether they prattle about being "Progressive Democrats" or not.
Not by any means the Democratic Party's rank-and-file membership, nor for that matter the Republican Party's rank-and-file membership -- they're working-class but deluded; working-class fish trapped in a capitalist gill-net.

It's shameful to be a member of the working class and join a capitalist party like the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.

You ought to save your personal honor and resign from it.

Hegel said "A nation gets the government it deserves".
The corollary to that is "But once it stops deserving that government, it kicks it out".

We are beginning to stop deserving a Democratic or Republican government.
That's the core lesson, in embryo, of Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative's magnificent Seattle city council victory.

So, stop being a cowardly opportunist, leave the Democratic Party, vote for Jess Spear, discuss with her, Socialist Alternative and $15Now -- and fight back!

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 11:09 p.m. Inappropriate

You're talking to yourself. Your words are absurd: "You ought to save your personal honor and resign from [the Democrats].... stop being a cowardly opportunist."

I mostly agree with Ben Crowther; your interpersonal skills are poor. If you are a spokesperson for S.A., you do them no favors.

Unlike bencrowther, I do not believe all socialists are so lacking in grace, because, as I have said, I am one. I am as disdainful of capitalism as you, and probably far more studied in political economics, history, etc. How old are you; what do you think you know? It's like you have a cut and paste of the same unpleasant script. Please rethink your strategy.

louploup

Posted Thu, Jul 31, 10:15 p.m. Inappropriate

Socialistworld: please, do yourself a favor and talk like a real human being and not a bumper sticker generator. It's possible to discuss left politics and economics without either spouting 1930's jargon or (actually even worse) deconstructionist gibberish. And nobody wants advice from Hegal.

Mr_Jones

Posted Fri, Aug 1, 5:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey bencrowther and louploup,

So not only JESS SPEAR, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative and $15Now, but also Frank Chopp, attended the 2014 Seattle LGBTQ parade?
It's very good that Frank Chopp attended.
On the march did Frank Chopp carry a Boeing banner? Or a BNSF banner?
:)
Senator Pedersen did not attend, did he?

Let's be clear:
If you're one of the working class, the 99%, then it's mere silly treason to vote, for any public position whatsoever, for a capitalist party candidate such as the Democratic-Republican Frank Chopp -- especially when there is a workers' candidate, on a worker's wage, fighting on a workers' programme: JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now.

Every serious party is the organ of exactly one class within society.
And the Democrats and Republicans are nothing if not serious:
$1Trillion in bankster bailouts; Drone-bombing children to pieces; Funding, to the tune of $3Billion last year, Israel's blood-soaked rampages.
No bailouts for you and me, though; No funding for Detroit; Heck, there they're even trying to disconnect our low-waged sisters'-and-brothers' water supply -- water, the Liquid of Life!

The Democratic and Republican parties are parties of the capitalist class; if you're a worker and nevertheless a member of such a capitalist party, you're just acting as a cowardly opportunist -- you're betraying your own class, the working class, and you deserve only to be laughed at if you still pretend to be a socialist.

That goes for SEAMEC as well, of course.

So, salvage your honor -- break with the capitalist snake-oil salesmen and their Democratic-Republican two-headed snake.
Discuss with Jess Spear, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative and $15Now, and their sisters and brothers.
That way we can all learn from one another.
If there's sufficient mutual agreement, consider joining Socialist Alternative and/or $15Now.
If there isn't, form your own party or group with your friends and co-thinkers, independent of the capitalists' Democratic and Republican parties, and we can participate in joint actions together.

Let's make history together!

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Fri, Aug 1, 7:39 p.m. Inappropriate

As to SEAMEC, is there a revolutionary socialist regime in the world which has promoted or even tolerated equality for sexual minorities? Anywhere? The USSR, the PRC, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, any of them? SEAMEC is wise to mistrust these Socialist Alternatives.

simorgh

Posted Sat, Aug 2, 5:02 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey simorgh,

China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela are NOT socialist, and never have been so far -- that's still the music of the future, which we must fight for.

As soon as the working-class in Russia overthrew the capitalists in October 1917, one of their elected Bolshevik-led government's very first legislative acts was precisely the outlawing of all discrimination against LGBTQ human beings.

In other countries, however, the revolution was drowned in blood by the capitalist enemy -- Germany 1919, Hungary 1919, Germany again 1923, China 1927, for example -- and in Russia itself 21 capitalist armies, including the US, invaded.

The new-born Socialist infant defeated them all and drove them out, but at terrible cost to itself -- much of the flower of Russia's working class died in battle, and the economy was wrecked.

Mass starvation, and even cannibalism in some instances, stalked Russia.
When there's a terrible shortage of life's essentials, there's a line of people queing up to get them.
When the line of people is really desperate and really long, there's a policeman to keep order in the line.
That policeman was the bureaucracy -- arising from the ranks of the Soviet government itself.
And the policemen grab the choicest goods for themselves -- thus the rise of a privileged bureaucratic caste in Russia.

Led by Stalin, the bureaucratic caste betrayed, usurped and murdered the Russian Revolution, massacring millions of revolutionaries.
Making Russia not a Workers' Democracy anymore, but instead a Bureaucratically-Degenerated Workers' State.

Amongst its other outrages, the Stalinist regime in Russia criminalized homosexuality in 1933.

In the early 1990s the Russian bureaucratist ruling caste transformed themselves into capitalists -- so they could bequeath their ill-gotten gains to their offspring, especially the hitherto publicly-owned national economy.

Today the Russia capitalists, their president Putin, their church-leadership cockroaches, their homophobic thugs, physically attack and jail us for daring to organize and participate in LGBTQ Pride marches.
We -- JESS SPEAR's and Kshama Sawant's co-thinkers and co-fighters in Russia, socialistworld.ru, fight them back.

It's time you and SEAMEC fought back too.

So get off your knees, break with the US capitalists' Democratic-Republican two-headed snake and their "Boeing's and BNSF's Blue-Eyed Boy" Frank Chopp.

Given that you're working-class, one of the 99%, vote with your class, for your class -- for Jess Spear of Socialist Alternative and $15Now.

In addition to voting, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party -- join it, fund it, build it, influence it.
http://www.socialistalternative.org/
http://15now.org/

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Sat, Aug 2, 6:49 p.m. Inappropriate

I call your bluff on the Russian LGBTQ law, Socialistworld -- Produce it. Especially hoping to find the Transgender reference.

To say that all these self-described Socialist governments are not Socialist is to try to change the language, nothing more. The word has a meaning, or at least the semblance of one, and your right or power to monopolize it for your own fantasies is limited.

Has Sawant abandoned Cuba, its repressive and impoverished throw-back regime no longer appeals to her? Did she learn that Cuba has a $15 minimum wage -- $15 per MONTH!?! Do you disavow her Cuba platform?

Leftist tyranny is the enemy of freedom and progress everywhere. Just like fascist tyranny -- but more seductive and therefore more insidious. Socialism is the opiate of adjunct community college instructors and their dupes everywhere!

simorgh

Posted Fri, Aug 1, 11:36 p.m. Inappropriate

Maybe there is a god, the Demokrats are starting to cannibalize themselves.

Djinn

Posted Sat, Aug 2, 1:26 p.m. Inappropriate

I am a person of color, living in the 15th Ave. (Capitol Hill) Neighborhood and I encourage all to vote for Frank, just as I have.

I voted for Frank based on the following:

1. He’s working to ensure all vulnerable people, including the working class, have access to basic needs benefits – affordable housing, food assistance, protection from domestic violence.
2. His ability to negotiate with the Senate (albeit incredibly difficult), to expand the state need grant (financial aid) to include students that don’t have legal status. This positively impacts the working poor, and people who have faced systemic barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential through an education. Amend that thought – it will positively impact all of us.
3. He’s an effective and proven leader. His ethos of empowering incoming House Democrats is an important one. He’s a team player and builds trust, confidence and leadership among those who are working to protect Washington State’s low-income, the working poor and the working class.

Vote Chopp.

JS

Posted Sat, Aug 2, 11:52 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey JS,
If you're one of the working class, the 99%, then it's mere silly treason to vote, for any public position whatsoever, for a capitalist party candidate such as the Democratic-Republican Frank Chopp -- especially when there is a workers' candidate, on a worker's wage, fighting on a workers' programme: JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now.

Especially as a "person of color", you should remember what Malcolm X taught us, with his martyr's blood:
"The Democrats and Republicans: One is the wolf, the other is the jackal. No matter what, they’ll both eat you.”

"But-but-but Frank Chopp is 'Mother' Teresa and 'Mahatma' Gandhi rolled into one"?:
Nonsense.
Frank Chopp failed to put even his $12 minimum-wage proposal to the WA house vote.
He gave Boeing $8.7Billion.
He is funded to the hilt by BNSF, who with their bomb-oil-train murdered 47 of our sisters and brothers at Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in 2013.
The BNSF executives should be facing trial and jail for that, but instead they've got off scot-free to send more bomb-oil-trains through places like Seattle.

Jess Spear and her co-fighters courageously put their freedom on the line with their rail-track protest two days ago, were arrested by BNSF police, were locked up.

Hey simorgh,

Do a Web search on "Bolsheviks" and "homosexuality" and "legalization".

middlebury.edu Russian Gay History
"It was not until 1832 that the criminal code included Article 995, which made muzhelozhstvo (men lying with men, which the courts interpreted as anal intercourse) a criminal act punishable by exile to Siberia.... The October Revolution of 1917 did away with the entire Criminal Code .... The new Russian Criminal Codes of 1922 and 1926 eliminated the offence of muzhelozhstvo from the law."
Jump up ^ Wayne R. Dynes, Stephen Donaldson. History of homosexuality in Europe and America. Taylor & Francis, 1992, pp. 174+

We don't let our enemies, the capitalists and the stalinists, define our basic political terms for us.
Hitler called himself a ("national") socialist -- and murdered millions of socialists.
Stalin called himself a socialist -- and murdered millions of socialists.

What is socialism?
For the individual worker like you and me, it's the fight for freedom -- from below!
From the depths of this vile capitalist (or stalinist, in the case of North Korea, Cuba) hell -- to complete victory, by our 7 billion sisters and brothers, throughout the planet!
http://www.socialistworld.net/

What's this slanderous nonsense of yours accusing Kshama Sawant of being a crypto-Castroite?

:)

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Sun, Aug 3, 1:02 p.m. Inappropriate

So the USSR legalized homosexual conduct from 1922 through 1933. SEAMEC has higher standards, as do the LGBTQ voters of the 43rd District.

What of the revolutionary socialist countries of today? Castro's Cuba notoriously operated internment camps for its HIV-positive citizens. You renounce Cuba as Stalinist but that was not Sawant's position when she was a candidate, and she proudly displayed Che Guevara imagery at her victory party.

You may know that Israel recognizes same-sex marriages (unlike Hamas and every other Arab regime, which are all deeply homophobic). Wikipedia and others display and update maps on the progress of Marriage Equality around the world -- revolutionary socialist regimes are entirely absent.

Leftist tyranny is the enemy of sexual minorities everywhere. Apologists for leftist tyrants are not to be trusted.

Let Jess Spear denounce Hamas and Cuba and Uganda with the fervor she uses against the Burlington Northern Railroad, as it prepares to ship coal to Communist China.

simorgh

Posted Mon, Aug 4, 7:29 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey simorgh,

October 1917 (No, we didn't wait until 1922) was when the workers in Russia together smashed discrimination against LGBTQ human beings -- and against all other workers.
Though unfortunately not for long, for the reasons that we discussed.

That's the shining legacy JESS SPEAR and Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative defend.

And in the US ? It was really only 50 years later, with the Stonewall fightback of 1969, that we began to make real headway in terms of the Gay Liberation struggle!

If you vote for the capitalists' Democratic-Republican "Bring on the BNSF Bomb-Trains", "Bequeath Boeing $8.7Billion" Frank Chopp, against JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now, then you're just committing silly treason against yourself as a fellow-worker.

Same goes for "SEAMEC", of course.

Who won Gay Marriage Rights in WA? Not the capitalists and their Democratic-Republican party head honchos, but the LGBTQ workers and the rest of the working class, as a mass movement!

You ask "What of the revolutionary socialist countries of today?"
Well, there are NO socialist countries today -- but there will be tomorrow, with your help!

And a small part of that help will be -- your voting for Jess Spear!
Because a victory for Jess Spear will truly be "a shot heard round the world".
Enthusing workers everywhere on the planet to take the battle to "their" oppressor governments.
Because, "Hey, if our sisters and brothers can win in the US, in the belly of the beast, in the major city of Seattle, why can't we in our own hometowns!"

That fight is against not only the US and Israeli regimes but also Hamas and homophobic regimes of whatever stripe.
In fact it's against ALL regimes on the planet today.

In addition to voting for Jess Spear, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party -- join it, fund it, build it, influence it.

What's this slanderous assertion of yours that Kshama Sawant has somehow changed her position regarding Cuba?
Socialist Alternative's, Kshama's and Jess's position is, and always has been, that Cuba since 1959 is a Bureaucratically-Deformed Workers' State.
Che Guevara was a splendid fellow, a relentless fighter, a dedicated revolutionary -- despite his serious mistakes.
If the US and Bolivian capitalists hadn't murdered him in their typically cowardly fashion in 1967, he probably would have become a marxist.
He almost certainly would have opposed the Castro bureaucracy's internment of HIV-positive human beings!

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Mon, Aug 4, 11 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey socialistworld

There is so much error in your posting, so I'll highlight just a few:

Discrimination against LGBTQ people was not smashed in 1917 in the USSR. Repealing sodomy laws in 1922 is hardly "smashing discrimination." It has never left Russia under any of its regimes.

Marriage Equality in Washington was enacted by most Democrats and a few (indispensable) Republicans in the Legislature, ratified by the voters in 2012. Judging by the candidates who were elected by those voters, virtually none of them were Socialists -- pretty much all Democrats and Republicans.

Che Guevara was not a "splendid fellow", he was a murderous thug. Glamorizing such a man is a sign of poor judgment at best.

Sawant has not audibly denounced the sexist homophobic violent Hamas regime (as you have). She denounces only Israel, which is a flawed but superior (to Hamas) regime. If Jess Spear is on record as having ever denounced any regime other than Israel and the USA, I am unaware of that and will confirm your citation after you provide it. Same for Sawant.

I am certainly not endorsing Chopp, who often retarded progress for LGBTQ people as Speaker. But at least he has the good sense not to apologize for the far-left tyrannies of the rest of the world nor lionize their goons. You may personally detest all regimes equally, but that is certainly not the record of Sawant and the others in your faction.

simorgh

Posted Tue, Aug 5, 5:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey simorgh,

If you say the capitalists' Democratic-Republican "Bring on the BNSF Bomb-Trains", "Bequeath Boeing $8.7Billion" catspaw Frank Chopp "often retarded progress for LGBTQ people as speaker", then it's your duty to vote for JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now.

In addition to voting for Jess Spear, make Socialist Alternative and $15Now your very own party -- join it, fund it, build it, influence it.

The 2 mistakes you're making are:
(1) A genuinely socialist (as opposed to a capitalist) party always speaks and fights as one:
Socialist Alternative members all decide upon policy together, and then every member publicly fights for exactly that same policy.
So at any given time, Socialist Alternative's, Jess Spear's and Kshama Sawant's public fighting positions on absolutely anything and everything are exactly the same.
See our opposition not only to the US and Israeli mass-murderer regimes, but also to capitalist enemy semi-regimes such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Isis, etc.:
http://www.socialistalternative.org/

http://www.socialistalternative.org/2014/08/04/kshama-sawant-on-gaza-solidarity-end-the-brutal-violence-and-killings/

Similarly with Jess Spear's and Kshama Sawant's co-thinkers and co-fighters in Israel/Palestine, Socialist Struggle Movement ("Nidal Harakat Eshteraki" in Arabic, "Maavak Socialisti" in Hebrew):
http://www.maavak.org.il/maavak/

Totally different from a pack of capitalist leading liars like with the Democratic Party (or with the Republican Party) -- Obama says one thing and does another, Clinton says something else and does something completely different altogether, Chopp accepts BNSF's blood-money donations while disliking their bomb-trains!
An "Orchestra" -- Fiddles and Lyres (liars).
:)

And
(2) A genuinely socialist council is both legislative and executive:
In Russia in February (old-style) 1917 the workers formed democratically-elected, instantly-recallable workers' councils ("Soviets") at street and workplace level.
Those councils each elected a delegate to the next-highest level, the neighborhood workers' council. And so on up to the national soviet, which after the October (old-style) 1917 Revolution became the sole government of the land.
One of its first acts was to smash all discrimination against all LGBTQ human beings.
How did it impose its decisions? With its Red Army.
1922 is when the Soviet governments of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and many others came together to form the USSR.

Totally different from a capitalist "parliamentary poultry-yard", as our immortal Rosa Luxemburg put it, such as the US congress passing any laws it feels like without bothering about how to implement them, and the president drone-bombing children, bailing out banksters, jailing conscientious individuals like Chelsea Manning for 35 years for the unpardonable crime of exposing blood-soaked war-crimes.

No, Gay Marriage Rights in WA were won not by some capitalist legislators but by LGBTQ workers and all workers creating a mass movement fighting for it.
And holding such capitalist legislators' "feet to the fire".

Just like the magnificent-though-imperfect Seattle $15 Minimum-Wage triumph was won by the low-waged workers and all workers mobilizing to fight for it.
The catalyst for that was Kshama Sawant's election to city council, organized by Jess Spear and Socialist Alternative -- giving the hitherto voiceless low-waged workers a platform, a megaphone, a bullypulpit.
So that they could hold the mayor and capitalist councillors' "feet to the fire".
Otherwise, how explain why we haven't won $15 anywhere else yet?

And the next stage in struggle?: Fight to vote JESS SPEAR into the WA house so she can help achieve the same, again through mass mobilization, throughout WA!

Regarding the heroic Che Guevara, his political mistakes were:
(1) Failing to understand that even in underdeveloped countries where the peasants are the majority, it is the working-class, disciplined in class-struggle in the hell of the factories, which wins to its side, its banner, its programme, the peasantry -- not the other way round.
Thus Che's incorrect overemphasis upon guerilla struggle as opposed to mass struggle by the working class and peasants.

And (2) Despite despising and rejecting stalinist bureaucratic privileges, Che had not broken completely with stalinism.

If the US and Bolivian capitalists had not vilely murdered him in 1967, Che would probably have rectified both those errors of his to become a genuine marxist fighter.

So, calling Che a "murderous thug" is mere slanderous nonsense.
Whom did Che "thuggishly murder"? Name one.
:)

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Wed, Aug 6, 3:14 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, the voters made their choice. (Not me -- I don't live in the 43rd).

It seems I made so many mistakes, but I'd like to focus on the One you call (1), about the "genuinely socialist" party you're in.

You are saying that Sawant and Spear and you all publicly fight for exactly the same policy. I await confirmation from Sawant and Spear DIRECTLY that you and all other Socialist Alternative members are all authoritatively speaking for all of you. We can't just accept your word for this, but if you could prevail on Sawant and Spear to confirm what you're saying, we who do not vote in lock-step with any party would be enlightened.

Thank you for your clarity on this matter. While I am less confident in your projection of what Mr. Guevara would have done had he not died when he did, the rest is illuminating indeed. And when we hear from Spear and Sawant that you are, indeed, their spokesperson, your postings will be shown to be highly important in the future of Socialism in Seattle.

simorgh

Posted Wed, Aug 6, 5:31 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey simorgh,

Let's discuss your points one by one.

Yep, the voters made their choice, 19% of them made the right choice, and in November 2014 hopefully many more will too!
Obviously, if the 99% vote for their JESS SPEAR of Socialist Alternative and $15Now, then she wins -- by 99%.
:)

No problem at all -- to err is human!
The thing is to try to minimize damage from them, learn from them, and not repeat them.

W should especially oppose the "lesser-evillism" gibberish spouted at us by the capitalists: "Ooh! -- you gotta vote either Republican or Democrat, whichever you think is the lesser evil; not for the Socialists, because then you'll find yourself in a tyranny! We say this only because we love you! Not because we love our profits -- why, perish the very thought!"

Here's a hilarious-but-serious attack against today's 2-party, 1-party, Tweedledum-Tweedledee political setup:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqpFm7zAK90

Too bad the NDP in Canada, the party which made the MouseLand video-clip, has since reneged and degenerated even further.
In the period in which it produced MouseLand the NDP was a workers' party although saddled with a wannabe-capitalist leadership.
Today, however, they're just another capitalist party through-and-through.

Absolutely! Every member of every national section of the Committee For A Workers' International (CWI), such as Socialist Alternative in the US, democratically participates in formulating national policy -- and then fights for it in public as one voice throughout that country!

If you want confirmation of that from Jess Spear, please do ask her:
http://www.votespear.org/contact

Or Kshama Sawant:
kshama.sawant@seattle.gov

Or anybody in any section of the CWI, of course:
http://www.socialistalternative.org/
http://www.socialistworld.net/

And here are Lenin and Trotsky themselves touching upon the subject:
https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1906/may/20c.htm
http://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1937/xx/democent.htm

(The http://www.marxists.org site is not ours, so it does include the writings -- and ravings -- of quite a few sectarian or opportunist nitwits pretending to be marxists!)
:)

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Wed, Aug 6, 5:59 p.m. Inappropriate

Well, at least we have an answer to John Stang's headline.

I will wait for Sawant and Spear to explain these matters for themselves. If Spear runs for the City Council she will be asked whether and to what extent her views and Sawant's are identical on all matters.

Lenin and his successors had their own ways to enforce discipline in their party, including some which are illegal here. Whether one thinks of our First Amendment as a lesser evil, or an evil at all, it's worth protecting to those who remember the 20th Century tyrannies and their contemporary successors in Cuba, Korea, China, Vietnam, Venezuela etc.

simorgh

Posted Thu, Aug 7, 12:56 p.m. Inappropriate

Hey simorgh,

Why wait? Instead, contact JESS SPEAR, KSHAMA SAWANT and Socialist Alternative yourself!

No, Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks used NO violent ways to maintain democratic centralism within the party.
That was Stalin and the ascendant bureaucracy.
Heck, by January 1928 the bureaucratic regime were entrenched enough to internally-exile Trotsky, main leader of the Left Opposition.
A river of blood separates Lenin from Stalin.
Ever since 1929, Stalin and the bureaucratist usurpers murdered millions of workers and Bolsheviks, massacring the Revolution.
In fact, objectively, the stalinists were a pack of attack-dogs -- on behalf of the capitalists!

There is no such thing as a "socialist tyranny", any more than there is a "vegetarian cannibal".
:)
Socialism is a massive extension, expansion and enhancement of democracy, not just on the political but also on the economic and social plane.
Bourgeois democracy is democracy for the bourgeoisie. When did they ever ask you and me for our opinions before launching any of their wars?
Socialism means democracy within the workplace as well -- unlike today where the workplace is a tyranny lorded over by the CEO and others of their ilk; so we have to redouble our efforts to unionize the workplace, and to fight for internal democracy within the unions and for breaking the unions' slave-chain-link to the capitalists' Democratic Party.

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

Posted Thu, Aug 7, 4:18 p.m. Inappropriate

If Sawant and Spear are to speak on this, confirming that they disagree about nothing and their political party can speak for them, they should do so in a very public way. I am unable to vote in the 43rd and the City Council elections are a long way off. Perhaps I'll find the right time and manner, but private emails to them won't cut it.

So, you and Sawant and Spear are self-described as Leninists but anti-Stalists? Got it.

simorgh

Posted Fri, Aug 8, 9:07 p.m. Inappropriate

Hi simorgh,

So please ask JESS SPEAR, KSHAMA SAWANT and Socialist Alternative in public.
Each speaks for the other in public.
Maybe attend a public meeting or demonstration and button-hole any one of us? -- we're all super-approachable!
:)

It's not that they "disagree about nothing", but that they "disagree about nothing in public".

We're not a talking-shop, not a mere debating society.
We strive to win over the huge majority to our ideas, and to broad working-class organizations such as $15Now -- against the capitalists' Democratic and Republican parties.

Within a genuinely-socialist party there's full freedom to criticize anybody and anything, and to put your ideas to the vote against anybody else.
Once voted upon, however, not only the majority but even the minority publicly fight for the majority-voted idea.
And, if they like, the minority can continue to oppose the majority's idea -- but as before, only within the party, never in public, of course.
"Full freedom of criticism, full unity in action".

Remember, we face a colossal capitalist enemy with a unified state machine for oppression, repression, suppression.
To think through how to fight him back at every juncture is the individual responsibility of each party member -- so, internal democracy is the party's oxygen.
But different members might have different ideas, so how do we fight him back effectively?
Not with 10,000 individual toothpicks, but with one united spear.
(No pun intended!)

Of course we use different battle-slogans to try to reach different sections of our class:
"$15 and a union now!" in the magnificent and largely-victorious Seattle Minimum Wage struggle.
"Crush workplace harassment", "The right to walk on the street without being attacked, whistled at or otherwise insulted", etc., as part of the fight for LGBTQ Liberation.
And to try to win over nursery-school students: "Socialism means free ice-cream forever!"
:)

Have you seen Ken Loach's movie masterpiece "Land and Freedom" about women and men fighters in the Spanish Civil War?
That memorably depicts the workers liberating a village and then discussing and voting on whether to collectivize the land:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH9J48jlUE0

Yes, absolutely.
While criticizing and trying to learn from this or that error that they might have made, we stand four-square under the banner of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, and other fighter-teacher-hero-martyrs like Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Liebknecht, James Connolly, Antonio Gramsci, Abraham Leon.
We hope to defeat both the capitalist vampire and the stalinist werewolf.

Yes, please do discuss every issue you deem important with Jess Spear, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative and $15Now, and their sisters and brothers.
That way we can all learn from one another.
If there's sufficient mutual agreement, consider joining Socialist Alternative and/or $15Now.
If there isn't, form your own party or group with your friends and co-thinkers, independent of the capitalists' Democratic and Republican parties, and we can participate in joint actions together.

Let's make history together!

Dump the Elephant, Dump the Ass! Build a Party of the Working Class!

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