Kshama Sawant, the feisty Socialist member of the Seattle City Council says President-elect Donald Trump’s election campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., was playing out the opposite way.
Trump’s cabinet nominations that include big business and corporate elite, she indicated, were a “swamp on steroids.”
The Indian-American councilmember has since the election, been at the receiving end of petition drives around the country to remove her, as well as hate mails that among other things, tell her to ‘go home,’ to India where she came from.
That opposition was a result of Sawant’s comments in a Nov. 9 press conference where she called Trump a racist and urged protesters to “shut down” the inauguration Jan. 20.
“We have received many thousands of calls and emails objecting to our call for a peaceful protest and a recall campaign,” Sawant told News India Times.
Los Angeles Times reported 20,000 people had signed the recall petition by Nov. 9 alone. However, a vast majority of them are from outside the city and the district that elected her, Sawant said, adding that those campaigning against her did not represent the majority of the working people and that the apparent rise of the “current of right-wing misogyny” was not about her.
According to news reports, one of the emails said, “Go back to India b..ch. I am tired of being shamed because I’m a white male. You automatically think I’m a racist. How about you go the f… back to India or wherever you came from?”
“We have had many threatening sounding racist and misogynist attacks and should not take them lightly,” she conceded. “But the greatest threat would be the inability to be unified,” Sawant said.
“There are examples after examples showing that when working people unite we can shake the powers that be,” Sawant said. Staying isolated was not the answer, she argued, and many of the gains achieved such as the national discussion about the $15 minimum wage was built by coalescing. She was also hopeful that such unified movements could bring about change under a Republican administration.
“Richard Nixon’s presidency was deeply conservative, yet on paper he has been the most progressive – Roe v Wade was passed, the Vietnam war ended, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) was formed, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) passed, gains were made in Native American rights …,” she reeled on, including the more recent Dakota Access Pipeline and Keystone pipeline protests.
“It all happened because of mass movements, not because of Nixon,” Sawant said.
It was necessary, she said to recognize that many of those writing the hate mail to her, despite their racist or misogynist content were people “angry that their living standards have plummeted.”
The “rise” of the right, she contended, was a direct result of the failure of the Democratic Party, and when working people saw a contender like Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton they “saw the epitome of Wall Street.” Sawant was a staunch supporter of former presidential candidate and Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.