Economics/Class Relations

Meet the Most Important Socialist in America Not Named Bernie Sanders

As a decentralist and pan-separatist, I am fine with progressive-left leaning localities like Seattle electing Marxists to their city council. I suspect this woman and I would agree on what I consider to be the big issues, i.e. U.S. imperialism, corporate governance, and the police state. That’s good enough for me. I’m sure I’d like her better than Rand Paul.

By Zeeshan Aleem


Bernie Sanders is sparking a new dawn for socialism in America.

The fast-talking Vermont senator has reveled in every opportunity to brandish his self-description as a “democratic socialist” and has electrified millions across the country with his message about ending inequality. He has prompted a wide-ranging conversation on the left about how to move beyond conventional Democratic politics. Along the way, he’s also inspired a debate over what socialism truly means.

But Sanders isn’t the only socialist in the United States making a splash.

Kshama Sawant, a member of Seattle’s city council since her election in 2013, has a tiny fraction of the name recognition of Sanders. But she’s quietly been making an impact that is arguably just as important, having led the charge for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle, which in turn sparked a national movement and has become a major litmus test for Democratic politicians.

Mic spoke on the phone with Sawant about her experience and aspirations as a proud socialist in a two-party-dominated political system. Last year at a panel in New York, she urged Sanders to run for the White House as a third party candidate and has been disappointed that he hasn’t. But she thinks his campaign is hugely important nonetheless. “This is not about Bernie Sanders,” she says, “It’s about those tens of millions of people who are now electrified by his message.” For Sawant, it’s always about the people.

The fight for $15: Just three years after becoming an American citizen, Sawant dethroned a four-term Democratic incumbent, becoming the first socialist to hold a citywide office in Seattle in decades, and the only declared socialist sitting in the legislature of a major U.S. city.


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