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Power to the people. Lester Black

The one message we've received from Mayor Durkan, Seattle Times's editorial board, the leaders of Seattle's booming tech sector is that Councilmember Kshama Sawant is divisive. But exactly what does this mean? A pitcher for the Nationals, Sean Doolittle, declined to visit the White House after his team won the World Series. His main reason for rejecting the offer: “[Trump's] divisive rhetoric.” Now, recall that in July, Mayor Durkan called Sawant divisive, and feared that adding another socialist (namely Tammy Morales) would only make matters worse for the city. For Durkan, conservatives like Trump, or Ari Hoffman, do exactly the same thing as those on the far left. They only work for one group, and not for everybody. Durkan feels that working for all groups makes a better and more balanced city.

But, of course, working only for the rich, as Trump does, and working only for the poor and wage earners, as Sawant does, is not at all the same thing. To think so is to assume that political power is evenly spread out in our society. The needs of those at the top must receive as much attention as those who are at the bottom? The problem with this assumption is money itself. Money is not just paper in a purse or information in a mainframe; in short, it's not neutral, something mainstream economists believe and teach, year in and year out. The abstract measure of wealth is also the greatest form of social power in our society, and the only institution that challenges or checks this power is democracy.

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To require that a leftist or socialist work for everyone in a community is to ignore the mammoth in the room, namely, that money primarily works for a small group and ignores the rest of the population. Sawant is hated because she fully understands that democracy is one of the few weapons that's available to those at the bottom.

I've had my disagreements with Sawant. One was her position on Jill Stein during the 2016 election; another was her decision to align her votes with her party's position (the second disagreement was, regrettably, exploited by Egan Orion's campaign). But what I've never doubted is her commitment to improving the lives of those at the bottom, a huge class that has little to no monetary representation—the top form of representation and influence in the US.

For Sawant, a democratic program cannot waste any of its time supplying even a little much-needed power to those who already have too much of it in their bank accounts. Remove democracy, and those at the bottom have nothing but the philanthropy and whims of the rich. Remove democracy, and those with money will still do fine. If money was fairly distributed in society, then there would be no need for socialists—for those who want to assert, by political means, the influence of those who have next to nothing. This is why there is no comparison between the divisiveness described by the Nationals' pitcher and that described by Durkan. Indeed, the comparison is insulting. How can you not see what poverty actually is (the absence of social power)? Why would you not see the urgency of this situation? Why would you not do everything you can to transfer as much value as you can from money to democracy?