Seattle Councilmember Sawant calls for walkout of the DNC

Jul 26, 2016, 2:53 PM | Updated: Jul 27, 2016, 8:49 am
Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has called for a walkout of the Democratic National Convention over the division of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton politics. (AP)


When the delegate count was in Tuesday and Hillary Clinton officially became the Democratic nominee for president, some were expecting a mass exodus from the Democratic National Convention in protest — mainly, by supporters of Bernie Sanders.

But while some left, the big walkout didn’t happen. One of the people to call for such a walkout was Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

“I wouldn’t underestimate the size of the walkout,” Sawant told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz.

Sawant said that while she was watching from Seattle, she was in contact with walkout organizers on the ground in Philadelphia.

“My understanding is that hundreds of them walked out, but there were tactics used to prevent the whole group from going out of the Wells Fargo Center in unison,” she said.

While there may not have been a mass walkout, there are reports that many did leave as expected.

“The main message is that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party – which are strong bastions of American capitalism and for decades have ruled US politics – their credibility is in shambles,” Sawant said.

Rantz noted that before Clinton’s nomination became official, most Bernie supporters, and anti-Hillary protestors, that he spoke to were firm that they would not vote for Clinton. But after Sanders came out for party unison, and after the delegate count, many switched and said they would vote for Clinton.

“I think a lot of people are, understandably, still clinging to this hope that this revolution — taxing Wall Street, ending student debt, single payer healthcare — can happen through the Democratic Party,” Sawant said. “We need to recognize and acknowledge that the Democratic Party is not going to be a vehicle for this kind of change. As much as we appreciate Bernie’s work throughout this campaign, I really supported him, it would not be correct to follow him into the Hillary tent.”

“You will see from now until November, people who are angry at Clinton holding their nose and vote for her, but a lot more people will just sit it out,” she said. “It is the duty of people like me on the left to provide a path forward. That is why we, myself and Socialist Alternative, are advocating for Jill Stein. Not because we think she will win this year, but because we don’t think right-wingers like Trump and Gary Johnson should have a monopoly over those millions of people disenchanted by Clinton, and Democratic and Republican shenanigans. We need a way forward, and a strong vote for Jill Stein this year will help us to build an independent party of the 99 percent.”

One suspicion around the convention, Rantz notes, is that there could be some kind of disruption during Clinton’s upcoming speech to accept the nomination.

“I have no doubt, from the reports I’m getting, that people are extremely energized …” Sawant said. “I have no doubt that with the energy from tonight, there will be ideas and plans for actions over the next two days.”

Original article

Seattle Socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant is calling for a walkout of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Her main complaint is over the division between Bernie Sanders supporters and the direction of the party.

Hillary Clinton is expected to be the official Democratic Party’s presidential nominee by the end of the week, after delegate counts are completed. But Sawant argues that backing “corrupt establishment politicians” will not defeat right-wing efforts. She said that Sanders supporters settling for Clinton is part of a “failed strategy of lesser evilism.”

Sawant put her call for a walkout in a post on Counter Punch, reposted on the local website for the Seattle Socialist Alternative. She said that delegates have already been planning for a walkout and there is potential for hundreds to leave the convention. She also claims that media will be waiting to hear their arguments outside of the convention.

The central issue is whether we should follow Bernie’s lead in supporting Hillary’s corporate politics, or continue the political revolution by building our movement independent of the DNC. While I supported Bernie’s primary campaign, spoke at Bernie rallies, and initiated Movement4Bernie, I believe we simply cannot follow him in his decision to back Hillary. Our political revolution now risks being turned into its opposite, and funneled into support for the DNC’s neoliberal agenda.

Sawant said that the recent Wikileaks news about leaked Democratic Party emails shows how “rigged the (un)Democratic primary was from start to finish.” She notes that the convention has experienced a flurry of protests over the division between Bernie and Hillary supporters within the party. She urges Bernie supporters to go further.

But the most powerful protest of all will be for delegates and activists to reject the neoliberal Democratic establishment altogether, and walk out of the convention in the largest possible numbers later this week.

Sawant also went on to say that those dissatisfied with the Democratic Party should support the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, and further form a new party of the 99 percent.

“Now it is left to us, ” Sawant writes. “To win the things we have been fighting for, our movement will need to stand on its own feet, go beyond Bernie, and begin laying the basis to build our own party, a mass party of the 99 percent.”

Sawant is not at the convention. She remains in Seattle, where she attended a press conference for REI employees Tuesday.

An online flier for the walkout states that the Movement4Bernie and Occupy Wall Street New York City are part of the call, and that the walkout is to be announced.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Seattle Councilmember Sawant calls for walkout of the DNC