JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Socialist Amazon-hater Kshama Sawant admits she has a Prime account

Jan 23, 2020, 6:10 AM | Updated: 10:09 am
Amazon Prime, Sawant...
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

Socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant has made Amazon public enemy number one, so it was a bit of a shock when I discovered her re-election campaign actually shopped there. But now Sawant has acknowledged she’s a Prime member who personally shops on the platform. Her argument about why this isn’t hypocritical isn’t particularly compelling.

“I do have an Amazon Prime account, but I don’t shop once a week,” the Stranger quotes Sawant as saying on a podcast called Activist Class.

Sawant has used Amazon to portray the problems with capitalism and big businesses, blaming them for a lack of affordable housing, the homelessness crisis, traffic, and a whole host of other Seattle problems (which she actually helped to create). She’s called the company a bully and slammed Democrats for “caving” to its demands. But now, Sawant is caving to their low prices.

“For me, boycotting is a political question — the Montgomery bus boycott worked because it was part of an organized strategy,” Sawant explained. “In the face of a trillion-dollar corporation with half of U.S. households as Prime subscribers, for me to boycott Amazon would be personally uplifting. [But] I don’t think I can be dishonest enough to pretend that if I didn’t shop at Amazon, somehow it’s having an impact. We should also not allow people to kid themselves on their lifestyle politics either; I mean, this is capitalism. How many companies are you going to boycott?”

While it’s not the first time she’s used this defense, it remains a weak one. This isn’t just any company. It’s the literal boogeyman she created to represent all that’s awful about capitalism and Seattle business.

Sawant has used boycotts to make political points that have no impact beyond mild media coverage of her press releases. For example, she boycotted the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild because she thinks cops are racist murderers. The event still went on, the police union is still strong, and much to her dismay, the SPD still exists.

Sawant highlights two local hotels on the AFL-CIO’s boycott list — both hotels are still here. Sawant helped fuel a boycott of small businesses that opposed the job killing head-tax — the same one that, despite the calls for boycott, resulted in the tax being repealed.

Next, Sawant says that “all corporations are bad.” Fair enough. It’s a myopic and unintelligent position, but it what she believes. It’s true that there are going to be times where you have no choice but to pay for a product or service from a corporation.

But Sawant’s not just buying from Amazon in cases where she can’t find the products locally. Virtually everything she’s likely purchasing can be found elsewhere.

Getting a book? She could shop at her district’s Elliott Bay Book Company. Need groceries? Skip Amazon Fresh and buy Central Co-op or one of the Farmer’s Markets on Broadway. Buying electronics? Buy them from a local company where, even if it’s a corporation, you’ll be giving work to a $15 minimum wage earner, instead of contributing to the “exploitation” of some Amazon warehouse workers out of state. She’s the one who thinks workers are being mistreated by Amazon, yet she’ll happily give them money?

Sawant isn’t just shopping at Amazon — she’s voluntarily subscribing to a service for $119 a year when she doesn’t have to. She’s choosing to do so because, as much as she hates capitalism, I guess she loves a good deal on products that she’s unwilling to pay full price for at a local shop by a small business. She’s literally fueling Amazon’s success while calling them evil.

Sawant certainly makes a valid point that consumer boycotts seldom actually work. It seems clear to me that people who claim to boycott a product over a political position, a tactic Progressives love to utilize, were never customers to begin with. And the few that do boycott won’t destroy a business like Amazon. But she’s actively giving them money every year despite implying she doesn’t shop there often. So she’s either lying about how often she shops at Amazon or she is just giving them free money.

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Rantz: Socialist Amazon-hater Kshama Sawant admits she has a Prime account