So said Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative Party at her swearing in ceremony as a Seattle City Council member on Monday. Here’s her speech in its entirety.


My brothers and sisters,

Thank you for your presence here today.

This city has made glittering fortunes for the super wealthy and for the major corporations that dominate Seattle’s landscape. At the same time, the lives of working people, the unemployed and the poor grow more difficult by the day. The cost of housing skyrockets, and education and healthcare become inaccessible.

This is not unique to Seattle. Shamefully, in this, the richest country in human history, fifty million of our people—one in six—live in poverty. Around the world, billions do not have access to clean water and basic sanitation and children die every day from malnutrition.

This is the reality of international capitalism. This is the product of the gigantic casino of speculation created by the highway robbers on Wall Street. In this system the market is God, and everything is sacrificed on the altar of profit. Capitalism has failed the 99%.

Despite recent talk of economic growth, it has only been a recovery for the richest 1%, while the rest of us are falling ever farther behind.

In our country, Democratic and Republican politicians alike primarily serve the interests of big business. A completely dysfunctional Congress DOES manage to agree on one thing—regular increases in their already bloated salaries—yet at the same time allows the federal minimum wage to stagnate and fall farther and farther behind inflation. We have the obscene spectacle of the average corporate CEO getting seven thousand dollars an hour, while the lowest-paid workers are called presumptuous in their demand for just fifteen.

To begin to change all of this, we need organized mass movements of workers and young people, relying on their own independent strength. That is how we won unions, civil rights and LGBTQ rights.

Again, throughout the length and breadth of this land, working people are mobilizing for a decent and dignified life for themselves and their children. Look at the fast food workers movement, the campaigns of Walmart workers, and the heroic activism to stop the Keystone XL pipeline!

Right here in SeaTac, we have just witnessed the tremendous and victorious campaign for fifteen dollars an hour. At the same time, in Lorain County, Ohio, twenty-four candidates ran, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as ‘Independent Labor’ and were elected to their City Councils.

I will do my utmost to represent the disenfranchised and the excluded, the poor and the oppressed—by fighting for a $15/hour minimum wage, affordable housing, and taxing the super-rich for a massive expansion of public transit and education. But my voice will be heard by those in power only if workers themselves shout their demands from the rooftops and organize en masse.

My colleagues and I in Socialist Alternative will stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who want to fight for a better world. But working people need a new political party, a mass organization of the working class, run by—and accountable to—themselves. A party that will struggle and campaign in their interest, and that will boldly advocate for alternatives to this crisis-ridden system.

Here in Seattle, political pundits are asking about me: will she compromise? Can she work with others? Of course, I will meet and discuss with representatives of the establishment. But when I do, I will bring the needs and aspirations of working-class people to every table I sit at, no matter who is seated across from me. And let me make one thing absolutely clear: There will be no backroom deals with corporations or their political servants. There will be no rotten sell-out of the people I represent.

I wear the badge of socialist with honor. To the nearly hundred thousand who voted for me, and to the hundreds of you who worked tirelessly on our campaign, I thank you. Let us continue.

The election of a socialist to the Council of a major city in the heartland of global capitalism has made waves around the world. We know because we have received messages of support from Europe, Latin America, Africa and from Asia. Those struggling for change have told us they have been inspired by our victory.

To all those prepared to resist the agenda of big business—in Seattle and nationwide—I appeal to you: get organized. Join with us in building a mass movement for economic and social justice, for democratic socialist change, whereby the resources of society can be harnessed, not for the greed of a small minority, but for the benefit of all people. Solidarity.

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7 Responses to ” I Wear the Badge of Socialist With Honor “

  1. Paul says:

    Milwaukee used to have leaders like this, they need that back.

  2. nonquixote says:

    Thanks for the post Steve,

    While it is commendable that WI Democrats are attempting to introduce a small increase to the minimum wage, we see here the incremental begging approach again from state Democrats. Minimum wage following the value of the dollar, increased US worker productivity and higher costs for consumer goods and services, dictate equitable current minimum wages should be around $16/hour today.

    So our “progressive,” Democrats lead off with an entirely inadequate proposal for a change and if anything gets any traction at all, they can claim bipartisan, feel-good, self congratulatory self importance with a $.30-$.50 /hr increase, which candidate Mary Burke already speculated would be where she would start, if elected.

    Anybody think an initial proposal of $16/hr minimum and maybe settling for $10-$12 or so might have been a better approach than wasting their time and effort with something totally inadequate to begin with?

    Sickening cowardace.

    • NQ,

      The Dems have reconsidered and are introducing a bill that’s in line with the bill in the US House which would raise the minimum wage to $10.10an hour over a two/three year period. Still woefully short of the $15.00an hour it ought to be, but much better than the .35cents an hour they originally proposed.

      • nonquixote says:

        Thanks for replying, I was aware of the info you added and it makes it doubly shameful with the presidency and one US House controlled by the Democrats that leadership isn’t coming from them to make the changes that are needed and we should be demanding?

  3. Duane12 says:

    The socialist doctrine or definition has many variations:

    According to the above, there may not be much difference between a “democratic socialist” and a “progressive democrat” both espousing a concept of shared wealth similar to the teaching of Christ’s concern and caring for the “poor man” and/or “the least among us.”

    As for conservatives, I see some with an irreconcilable difference in the practice of their faith, sustained by a false conscience and idolatry of an accumulation of wealth and power. A good example may be the voting records of my representatives, Duffy and Johnson; I have known atheists with more humanity than these two ideologues.

  4. nonquixote says:

    Continuing with the comments, here we have pathetic Barry’s solution to poverty:

    No new money??

    How do you like that? So, the man that helped push through the multi-trillion dollar Wall Street bailouts is not going to give one red cent to the nation’s poorest and most needy people. Instead, he is going to do whatever he can to eliminate the rules that keep voracious corporations from feeding at the public trough.

    • nonquixote says:

      In case any readers haven’t figured it out yet, Democrats are in a full tag-team partnership with Republicans to provide austerity for us and socialized profits for the corporations. In keeping with the socialist candidate featured, LOOK people at the Democrats and tell me if you are happy with the neoliberal corporatists that the party leadership has become.

      Time to call the representatives you voted for and tell them whether or not they still represent your values. If you voted and have not voiced your further concern, you have no credibility in going after Walker or any of the State Republicans.

      Democrats attack the unemployed and the poor.

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