OPINION: We Need Better Options

by the Seattle Peoples Party

This past year has been a very difficult one. With global fascism on the rise, the war has continued to escalate against people of color, women, trans and gender non-conforming folks, disabled people, and anyone who is economically disadvantaged. Here in Seattle, the housing catastrophe has intensified, with over 12,000 people living houseless at any given time.

Amid these crises, folks have organized and are fighting back. Northwest Detention Center Resistance has spearheaded the fight against deportation of community members by ICE. The No New Youth Jail coalition has shown immense moral leadership against the construction of the new juvenile jail, despite growing crackdown by the elite. And a broad coalition of housing and economic justice groups passed a historic tax on Amazon and big business to fund affordable housing and homeless services.

Unfortunately, Seattle knows firsthand what happens when officials in elected office are isolated and unaccountable to the movement. Less than a month after the head tax was passed unanimously, a majority of city councilmembers (all of them Democrats) repealed the tax. In the face of strong opposition from the racist, rich elite, the elected officials chose to concede rather than fight for the thousands of folks living without stable housing in our city. If these councilmembers had been part of and accountable to the movement, they would have stood their ground and fought back against morally bankrupt big businesses that used dangerous anti-homeless demagoguery.

This is why we are organizing. We know that the electoral system can be toxic. We must create a political alternative to the two party system in Seattle and King County that can promote real change, such as challenging the police (instead of gifting them a contract that reduces accountability), building far more public housing (instead of selling public land), or challenging and working to abolish the entire carceral state (instead of embracing small, limited reforms).

Members share why they are part of the Seattle Peoples Party at the membership drive. In the past year, the group has worked to create a party structure that is rooted in true community accountability, hope and power. The party has taken lessons learned during Nikkita Oliver and the party’s run for mayor and are working in coalition with other collectives in the movement to push for radical, transformative change. (Photo Courtesy Seattle Peoples Party)

In the past year, we became a 501(c)(4) and are building out our base. In early October, we held a membership drive and invited hundreds of community members to join the party. We know that in order to be truly democratic, we must focus on accessibility and accountability in our movements and in our community spaces. We shared the space with organizing ventures from all around the city and officially started signing people up to join our grassroots political party. Membership dues are determined on a sliding scale and membership activity is focused on existing grassroots organizing and activism.

Dorian Taylor, James Bible, and Oloth Insyxiengmay talking about the criminal legal system in King County and the prosecutor’s role in maintaining its injustices. (Photo Courtesy Seattle Peoples Party)

A week after our membership drive, we held a King County Prosecutor forum. After originally slated to be a debate between incumbent Dan Satterberg and public defender Daron Morris, both candidates cancelled once Morris dropped out for health reasons. The King County Prosecutor has immense discretion over which people are charged with a crime, whether to use cash bail or incarcerate youth, and if police are held accountable for the violence they commit. Both when the time came for a new election, both the establishment and Democratic reformers failed us. While the establishment never cared about our communities in the first place, the  progressive Democrat chose to run alone without full movement backing. As James Bible explained during our forum “there is no such thing as a progressive prosecutor.” We need a prosecutor who acknowledges this fact and will use their position to make their office obsolete.

While most politicians locally and nationally sacrifice accountability to the constituents who elected them in order to save their careers, the bottom line for our candidates is accountability to our community and out movement. We believe that legislation and leadership should emerge from who is being most impacted, instead of from those who are most privileged. We are doing this because if we don’t unite and fight for the issues that impact our communities the most, who will?

At the end of the day, if we organize together in solidarity, we can make these changes. We invite you to join us to help build our party. We want you to make the decisions and contribute your knowledge and expertise to make positive transformation. For more information on how you can join us, go to seattlepeoplesparty.com/membership.

Feature Image Courtesy Seattle Peoples Party