Imagine 200 Occupy Candidates This Year…

by Socialist Alternative (Seattle, USA) on August 29, 2012

Imagine 200 Occupy candidates running for Congress this year –- independent of the Democrats and Republicans.

Imagine if these candidates were not careerist politicians, but activists and ordinary people, running as accountable representatives of a real, fighting movement of the 99%.

Imagine homeowners who are facing foreclosure running against local sheriffs, and pledging to stop all evictions.

Imagine teachers fighting union-busting; debt-ridden students fighting for free education; low-wage workers fighting for a living wage; and environmentalists fighting big oil.

Imagine them all running with tens of thousands of Occupy activists backing them up: going door-to-door, rallying, protesting, and using these candidates to build the power of our grassroots mass movement.

Last year, the Occupy Wall Street movement showed that when the 99% speaks up, the seething anger of millions can transform into social power and change the whole political landscape.

But, this year, the 1% is making a comeback, using their domination of electoral politics. Had hundreds of independent working class candidates run, it would have been a different story.

And that’s why it’s absolutely crucial to support the few candidates who are running and challenging the two-party corporate duopoly this year.

In Seattle, Occupy activist and Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant a teacheris running for State House against the most powerful legislator in Washington State, Democratic Party leader and House Speaker, Frank Chopp.

The Vote Sawant campaign is gaining momentum and making an important impact. Recently, we won an unprecedented victory.

While formally running for District 43, Position 1 against Democrat Jaime Pederson in the Washington State August primary, and winning second place with over 9% of the vote in that race, we also won 12% of the vote and second place in a write-in campaign for Position 2, against Chopp.

Under Washington law, this gave Vote Sawant the choice to switch races for the November general election – something that has never before happened in Washington.

This has forced the media and the Democrats to take our campaign more seriously.

Before the primary, Vote Sawant received endorsements from the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 local and a write-in endorsement from The Stranger, a widely-read alternative newspaper in Seattle.

But we believe we have only scratched the surface of the potential support we can mobilize.

With your support, it’s possible our campaign can not only make an important impact on Washington politics, but also on national politics. A strong campaign in Seattle can provide a powerful example of how it’s possible to build independent challenges to corporate politics in every city in America.

But we need your help. As you know, the election system is stacked against independent, anti-corporate candidates and it costs money to run.

Our campaign is 100% people-powered. We reject money from corporate America as a fundamental principle of our campaign. So we are appealing to activists from across the U.S. to donate.

The Democrats and Republicans don’t need your money. They get plenty from Goldman Sachs and the rest of the financial aristocracy.

Please consider making a donation to Vote Sawant today, and help us strike a blow against corporate politics in 2012.

* A maximum donation of $900 can sustain a full-time organizer for a month.

* $500 will allow us to print 250 yard signs.

* $200 will help pay for a political consultant to analyze the most likely voters.

* $30 will allow us to make a laminated full-color sign for our tables.

* $10 will help us maintain our website for a month.

Make donations at

Other Ways You Can Support our Campaign:

1) Like our Facebook page:

2) Volunteer
We are running a 100% grassroots, working-class campaign. We rely on ordinary people contributing their time and energy to build our campaign. We need you to get involved! There are many things that we need help with, so you can definitely pick a task that works for you! Sign up at

3) Endorse our candidate
Invite the candidate and/or a campaign representative to talk with your organization about an endorsement. Please also contact us if you want to personally endorse as an individual. Include exactly how you want to be listed, for example, as “John Gallup, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 member.”

4) Get organized – Join Socialist Alternative!
We have weekly activist meetings, events, and education programs to help understand the key lessons of past movements, revolutions, and how to change society.

For more information or to get involved in the Sawant campaign and/or Socialist Alternative:
(206) 486-0099
[email protected]

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Arthur August 29, 2012 at 10:50 pm

“* $200 will help pay for a political consultant to analyze the most likely voters.”
“We are running a 100% grassroots, working-class campaign. We rely on ordinary people contributing their time and energy to build our campaign.”

I’m not directly familiar with American electoral campaigns but these two appear inconsistent to me.

Analysing the most likely voters presumably includes studying the local situation, conducting surveys etc. These are important activities both for understanding and for directly connecting with the people. A survey becomes an opportunity for a conversation etc. So surely this ought to be done by “ordinary people contributing their time and energy” rather than by a professional “political consultant”?


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 30, 2012 at 8:22 am

There is no contradiction between running a grassroots working-class campaign and hiring a bourgeois expert. A scientific analysis of likely voters is especially important for campaigns with meager resources, where every red cent counts, because you have to strategically prioritize and focus your efforts on where you are most likely to have the greatest impact.

I think this was a hypothetical example to give people a concrete sense of what their money will actually be spent on. No one likes donating to a black hole.

Another issue is that the U.S. far left has zero experience in the electoral arena aside from occasional (sectarian) wrangling over whether to endorse Nader/Green candidates. Dan LaBotz of Solidarity ran on the Socialist Party’s ballot line for U.S. Senate in 2010 but that was basically a propaganda campaign, not a serious bid for power.

For all the trash-talking among Marxists against anarchists for not having a strategy for taking and holding political power, the reality is that we operate on the same “change the world without taking power” model they do. We protest, we demand, we lobby the enemy’s politicians, get ignored, go home, and tell ourselves “aha that’s why we need a revolution!” without any plan or notion of how we get from A to X, Y, or Z. If we can’t wrest any offices from 1% control and govern better than they do, we certainly aren’t going to be able to wrest state power as a whole from them to create a workable post-capitalist social order.

This type of initiative shows what kind of creative flair is needed to begin organically developing an electoral wing of Occupy. Socialists were known in the days of Debs to champion political action in conjunction and as a form of direct action and we should do so again since it helped create a mass socialist party here in the U.S. despite the unfavorable terrain.


Arthur August 30, 2012 at 9:13 am

Your first paragraph simply states that there is no contradiction, without presenting any actual reply to the contradiction I drew attention to.

The remainder appear to be directed to some other debate you might reasonably expect to arise from this post, but not to anything I said.

On the “change the world without taking power” model, it includes, but goes far beyond, an incapacity for electoral activities.

See for example some similar remarks about “left” whinging from 3 decades ago in this Australian May Day leaflet:

The context was nothing to do with elections, or relations between “marxists” and “anarchists” but I think the parallel concerns are clear. The lack of an actual alternative program was and still is central.


Pham Binh of Occupy Wall Street, Class War Camp August 30, 2012 at 11:36 am

I can’t reply to a contradiction I don’t see. Consultants who study voting patterns are not just running surveys, usually.


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