Support Sherae Lascelles for State House - Statement by Seattle DSA
Originally published by Seattle DSA on 10/18/20.
A Statement from Seattle Democratic Socialists of America
Seattle DSA is proud to support Sherae Lascelles for Washington State House’s 43rd Legislative District. Lascelles is a Seattle People’s Party candidate whose grassroots campaign has been fueled by the energy of the movement for Black lives. They represent a break from business as usual; not only politically but also as a sex worker organizer and as a gender non-binary candidate.
While tens of millions of working people will be voting in this election against Donald Trump, there is a lack of enthusiasm among progressives for Joe Biden. In Seattle’s 43rd Legislative District race however, Sherae’s campaign offers a chance to not just vote against the status quo of corporate politics, but to vote for an anti-establishment, anti-racist agenda that favors workers, BIPOC, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities.
Sherae is running a people-powered campaign that refuses corporate donations and champions important working-class demands such as:
- Taxing the rich
- Decommodifying housing and building publicly-owned social housing
- Free public transit
- Universal childcare
Throw Out Frank Chopp
Sherae has a fighting chance of defeating Frank Chopp, a 25-year incumbent and top power player in Washington state’s corrupt cesspool of corporate politics.
Chopp was the Speaker of the House for almost two decades and a central leader of the state Democrats. Despite his progressive facade, Chopp has overseen thoroughly pro-corporate policies —while the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the Governor’s mansion for many of his years in office.
Instead of taxing the rich, Frank Chopp pushed through a record tax giveaway of billions to Boeing with few strings attached; Boeing executives enjoyed the tax break and relocated jobs out of state anyway. Instead of providing tuition-free higher education, Frank Chopp presided over a system that criminally underfunded public education according to the state Supreme Court. While Chopp was representing one of the most progressive districts in the state, he led the House Democrats in entrenching a vicious system of mass incarceration of people of color and the poor.
The August primary showed that Chopp can be beaten and Lascelles has a path to victory. Despite Chopp being a powerful incumbent and the more conservative electorate in the primary, he received less than 50% for the first time since winning his seat in 1994. Meanwhile his progressive challengers won a majority, with Sherae winning 31% and Jessi Murray receiving 18%.
These primary results were a local expression of a national trend which has seen candidates associated with Black Lives Matter pulling off upset wins in a political climate shaped by the uprising for Black lives, COVID-19, and a swing to the left in urban centers.
Yet Frank Chopp still has major advantages. Chopp has received large donations from many business groups. And shamefully he is also endorsed and funded by most unions and a number of local politicians, such as Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. They are supporting Chopp even though there is no Republican in the race, the usual justification for supporting establishment Democrats.
This demonstrates the dead-end political strategy of most union and progressive leaders of trying to cozy up to the Democratic Party rather than relying on building the power of the multiracial working class with its own independent organizations, consciousness, and social movements.
Building an Alternative to Corporate Politics
In contrast, Sherae has shown real courage in taking on a powerful establishment Democrat when too many on the left with far greater resources have instead taken the path of least resistance by trying to curry favor with those in power. Seattle DSA is inspired by Sherae’s decision to run independently not just of corporate money but also independent of the Democratic Party that dominates state politics, especially in Seattle.
Every week our members are canvassing and making the case to vote for Sherae. The stronger Sherae’s vote, the more it will raise the confidence and expectations of left-wing workers and youth and encourage additional electoral challenges by Black Lives Matter and left-wing activists against corporate Democrats. A victory for Sherae would send a powerful message to corporate Democrats throughout Seattle that they will face more left-wing challenges.
Seattle DSA is supporting Sherae as part of our general class-struggle election strategy of building working-class power, promoting socialist ideas, and building resistance against capitalism beyond any single election. This includes building DSA and other working-class organizations like unions, as well as social movements like BLM, out of such electoral efforts.
As socialists we support Sherae’s campaign as a part of building momentum for fundamental, systemic change. We stand for a socialist agenda in Washington state of:
- Tax big business & the rich
- Lift the undemocratic ban on rent control
- A Washington State Green New Deal
- Fully fund K-12 public education & dramatically reduce class sizes
- Tuition-free education at all state universities and community colleges
- 6 months paid parental leave
- Cut the bloated law enforcement and criminal justice system. Shut down the deportation machine: close the Northwest Detention Center
- End the racist “war on drugs” in Washington State & release non-violent prisoners incarcerated for crimes of poverty
- Reparations, paid for by taxing big business, to black communities for slavery and systemic racism and to indigenous people for the genocidal colonization they suffered
In this fundamentally divided society we reject the idea that any politician can represent everyone. The ruling class has a virtual monopoly on political representation, while workers and marginalized communities have hardly none. As Sherae says, their vision is one “which views social justice as more than just asking marginalized communities to provide representation at photo-ops, but actually giving them political power, a platform, and a megaphone.”
Seattle DSA will be ramping up our efforts for Sherae in the next few weeks as a launching pad to fight against the racist capitalist system and to build a political alternative to corporate politics. This may be a close race. We urge everyone to volunteer, donate, and vote for Sherae Lascelles!
For more information on member-endorsement of the campaign, read the original statement here.