By Eugene E. Ruyle

Posted on November 16, 2013 by the Communications Committee

As the economy tanks and the approval rating of Congress drops to an historic low of 5%, the city that gave us the Seattle General Strike of 1919 and the WTO Shutdown in 1999 is doing it again. Seattle is on the verge of electing a socialist to its City Council in 2013.

As of Friday afternoon, Nov 15, socialist Kshama Sawant, an Economics Professor at Seattle Central Community College and a prominent figure in Seattle's Occupy Wall Street movement, is leading in the race for Seattle City Council Position 2 by 1640 votes, with 50.30% to incumbent Richard Conlin’s 49.36%. (Daily updates are at King County Elections.) She is in a strong position to be the first open socialist elected to city council in Seattle's history, and the first to win a citywide race in any major US city in generations. (Update on November 16 -- Sawant's opponent, Richard Conlin, has conceded.)

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Ty Moore, another Socialist Alternative member, got 43% of the first-choice votes for City Council in Ward 9 of Minneapolis. This shows that Sawant’s strong showing is no fluke, but rather an expression of the frustration folks feel with "politics as usual" by Democrats and Republicans, by whatever name.

As our comrades in Socialist Alternative observed, “Capitalism is in crisis here and internationally. Mass unemployment and institutionalized racism continue while we face the brink of further environmental devastation. The political establishment is more and more out-of-touch and discredited. This system offers no way out, but there is hope—millions are looking for a fundamental change, and Socialist Alternative is getting a better response for our ideas than ever before.”

There is indeed growing support for socialism, especially among minorities, youth, and the poor. A poll by the Pew Research Group found that socialism out-polls capitalism among Blacks (55% to 41%), Hispanics (44% to 32%), 18-29 year olds (49% to 46%), and those will family income less than $30,000 (43% to 39%). The rich, white, and elderly favor capitalism but not as strongly as one might think, with only 68% of those with family incomes over $75,00 having a positive view of capitalism, while 55% of whites and 52% of those 65 and older do so. (See Huffington Post of December 29, 2011.)

In 2012, socialism was dubbed the "Word of the Year" by Merriam-Webster. Let’s make 2014 the "Year of the Socialists." It is definitely the year we in Peace and Freedom will be inspired by our comrades in Socialist Alternative.

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Eugene E. Ruyle serves on the State Central Committee and Alameda County Central Committee.

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