South Seattleites Weigh In On Their Picks for President

collected by Emerald Staff

March 10 is Washington’s first presidential primary election.  For the first time, our state is in play leading up to the National Democratic Convention this summer. King County Elections mailed primary ballots out this week. Voters will have nearly two weeks to cast their vote and return their stamp-free ballot to a drop box or by mail. Drop boxes will close March 10 at 8 p.m.

Today, the Emerald features essays written by South Seattle folks about why they are supporting their candidate. More essays to follow.

We begin with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both making Washington appearances this week.

Why I Believe Bernie Sanders Will Be The Next President by Michael Charles (South Seattle resident)

On January 3, 2008, I stood in a crowded basement of a retirement home in downtown Iowa City, Iowa among a group of students, families and the elderly to take part in what we knew would be a defining moment for the future of our Country.  We were there to cast our votes in the Iowa Caucuses and stand there for our hours to ensure our preferred candidate won. In my precinct, Senator Obama captured the overwhelming majority of the delegates that night and was a small part in what turned out to be a momentous victory and the beginning of a game-changing campaign, that did in fact, make history.

Fast forward 12 years, and I found myself on the other side of the country, at home in South Seattle but still curious about my former state of residence in wanting to know what was happening there on the ground.  I decided to pack up and head back to Iowa in anticipation of what I knew would be an interesting few days. But it turned out to pulse with more energy and excitement than I had ever witnessed in the first state in the Nation to be weighing in on the nomination.

Driving around the state with Bernie Sanders campaign surrogates to Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Oskalooska and Indianola,  I saw thousands of people in supporters’ homes, bars, strip malls, and anywhere else that could be repurposed for a campaign event.

Passion gripped people for the Sanders campaign like I had never seen before. Location after location saw supporters from Iowa, in addition to those who had flown in from all around the country, and all around the world, to achieve the goal of changing their lives for the better and defeating “the most dangerous president in the history of modern America”.

What made these meetings most interesting were the coalition of supporters Senator Sanders had brought together.  Every room, in even the smallest of towns, was filled with people of every race, people will all levels of physical ability, and people from all sorts of different economic levels.  There were people who had supported Trump before, flight attendants, teachers, restaurant servers, and every other imaginable profession.

There will be many people who will say that Bernie Sanders can’t win the nomination, or that he is too far left, or this, that, or the other, however what I saw in Iowa this weekend was the same energy and passion that carried Obama to victory in the 2008 caucus, and it was being done with a coalition that was even more diverse than I remembered from before.

Every candidate who has eventually won their party’s nomination has faced a barrage of criticisms against them. It was the same with the 2008 Obama campaign. Almost no one thought a Black man had any shot at winning, but his supporters in that Iowa basement who knew a better country was possible did. It taught me that the first step to winning is believing you can, and then going out and putting in the work around a message that motivates even more people to believe.

In my most recent trip to Iowa, I definitely witnessed other candidate’s campaigns working to build a winning coalition at the caucuses, but their events couldn’t match the passion and energy found in ones held for Sanders.

Winning a few primaries won’t guarantee that Senator Sanders wins the nomination but it will build momentum and help show people that regular people are fed up and can come together based around a set of common values, not just an outsized personality or someone with an amazing resume.  The Democratic Party is fortunate to have its fair share of candidates who fit both bills, however, there is only one candidate who has a consistent record of speaking to and for the working class. There is only one candidate buoyed by people whose hope and optimism for what could be is the driving force to show up to the polls.

I believe Sanders will win the Democratic nomination and go on to beat President Trump because of what I saw on the ground in Iowa a few weeks ago: people coming together to work harder, to motivate people to believe that our government can work again for working people of all races, and lead with values we can all believe in as Americans. I saw hope that our country can turn it around and put working people first and create progressive change that has always been just out of reach due to the lack of fortitude and seriousness paid by leaders claiming to care about these things.

All of the candidates in the race have their positives and negatives, but if we are hoping that money or a demonstrated inconsistency on progressive issues will lead us to a better future,  we have a rendezvous with disappointment. That type of hope won’t activate the coalition of supporters and the sheer numbers we need to turn out to ensure that President Trump is defeated.  I fashion myself as a practical progressive and after what I saw that weekend, it’s clear that if your main concern is beating Trump, then the only practical choice is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders spoke to a reported 17,000 people at the Tacoma Dome on Feb 17. (Photo courtesy of the Bernie Sanders campaign)

Why I Support Elizabeth Warren  by Tammy Morales, Seattle City Council Member (D2)

I first started paying attention to Elizabeth Warren when she was advocating for what eventually became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the Obama Administration. As a community advocate focused on doing away with wealth strippers – entities that take money from low income communities and don’t reinvest in them – I paid close attention to what she was doing. These payday lenders, student loan and credit card companies and others prevent our communities from building wealth.

Elizabeth Warren has researched and advocated for economic justice her entire adult life, and has such a fierce passion for implementing the solutions even when it means going against some of the largest power brokers and industries in the country. She created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but powerful forces ensured that she would not get confirmed as its first director.

Undaunted, she continued to fiercely advocate for economic justice and got elected to the U.S. Senate to continue those efforts. In 2016, I was a Bernie Sanders supporter, although I had hoped for Elizabeth Warren as a candidate. But, things change. I supported Bernie last time. Now, Elizabeth Warren is in the race and she’s my candidate.

In 2020, I am excited that the one candidate who has the background, decades of engagement and a fierce commitment to economic equity is a candidate for President of the United States.

Warren has done her due diligence and is committed to making the changes that are necessary, no matter the obstacle. She has always worked for all of us who get ripped off by a system that knows their economic policies ensure that discrimination will keep people of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA and other economically challenged folks under their thumb.

We and all our neighbors need to be able to build wealth.

She’s been advocating and does not back down. She’s willing to push entrenched power and push boundaries to make things change.

I get excited about her passion for justice, not just economic justice but racial justice too. And, she made a really strong point during the New Hampshire debate. She made it clear that we should talk about racism all the time – not justwhen we’re talking about the criminal legal system. We need to invest in neighborhoods, and this is where her passion and mine connect best: historically low investments in neighbors, housing and food insecurity, subpar schools are all structural problems rooted in racism – and they are all part of the wealth stripping that happens in communities of color. The racism problem is what makes it so difficult for families and communities to pull out of poverty. All
citizens should engage in the March 10th primary and in the November general regardless of who they support for President. Please join me in voting for Elizabeth Warren.

Elizabeth Warren
On February 22nd, Warren will be speaking at the Seattle Center Armory. For more information: (Photo: Gage Skidmore)