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A municipal Green New Deal champion beat a billionaire in Seattle

Jeff Bezos is the billionaire CEO of Amazon and currently the second richest man in the world. He recently went to war with a socialist City Councillor and a municipal Green New Deal won.


Seattle City Councillor Kshama Sawant has been a municipal Green New Deal champion, along with supporting other progressive movements like the Fight for $15.


Amazon, which has been resisting taking climate action, tried to buy the recent Seattle City Council election, spending an unprecedented $1.5 million to unseat Sawant and other progressive Councillors. They failed


This is tangible evidence that we can win a Green New Deal by fighting for it in our communities, even when that means direct confrontations with the most powerful capitalists in the world. Here’s why.


Amazon vs. Kshama Sawant

Democracy Now reported that Sawant, initially elected in 2013 as the first socialist City Councillor in over 130 years, “has successfully pushed a number of progressive policies, including making Seattle the first major American city to adopt a $15-an-hour minimum wage.” 

A $15 minimum wage and fairness for workers is a necessary part of any Green New Deal, which Sawant has also been a vocal advocate for. Seattle City Council adopted a local Green New Deal unanimously in principle in August, thanks to the great organizing of Seattle for a Green New Deal and its supporters.

Sawant is part of the fight for this grand transformation, including the Fight for $15 and other massive changes to housing, inequality, energy, transportation, and more.

This local election was a microcosm of the struggle ahead of us. The billionaires of the world are going to throw all they can at us to stop a Green New Deal and other progress for workers and the climate from happening. Just like Bezos did to try to stop Sawant.

Because the billionaire class recognizes the threat of a Green New Deal to climate-killing and inequality-fuelling profits, as well as the foundations upon which their corporate empires are built.

And as strong and powerful as the 1% is, Sawant’s victory is powerful evidence that we can win a Green New Deal from the ground up, community by community. Because ultimately, we are more powerful than the 1% that stands in our way, when we organize strategically.


Sawant’s victory will embolden the movement in Seattle and build on City Council’s commitment to a Green New Deal in principle so that they can implement a concrete, transformative plan.


The Seattle election is also a timely reminder of the important leadership role so many radical racialized women play in moving our movements forward and building a better world. 


Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt author Sarah Jaffe has pointed out that Sawant’s electoral win in 2013 opened up political space that paved the way for social movement progress. And movements made her win possible.

This, I think, is the crux of why Amazon went after Sawant with such fervour.


Amazon vs. the Green New Deal


It’s not just that Sawant running on a Green New Deal platform and winning makes Seattle implementing its Green New Deal that much more likely. It’s the risk of that win spreading like wildfire beyond Seattle to spark local Green New Deals in communities everywhere. 


Sorry to burst your bubble, Bezos, but you’re too late. Communities across the U.S., Canada, and around the world are already taking action to build local Green New Deals.


Occupy and the Fight for $15 put inequality on the map in a way so powerful it could no longer be ignored, including through the Fight for $15 and Fairness here in Canada. Centring the fight against inequality makes the Green New Deal powerful and popular. It’s a demand rooted in years of movement building and in an ongoing political awakening of the class consciousness of millions of people. 


No wonder Bezos wanted to crush Sawant’s campaign. Sawant and the movements that built her a platform on City Council to amplify their voices have already proven rather dangerous to the billionaires. Who knows what more political space they can open, especially with the rise of the Green New Deal.


Amazon vs the Climate


Why would Amazon want to stop a Green New Deal? Because its business model is based on exacerbating inequality while making the climate crisis worse, something its own workers have been organizing to challenge through Amazon Employees for Climate Justice. As part of this effort, thousands of Amazon workers walked off the job to join the September climate strike.

Make yours a Green New Deal community

Here’s what you can do:

1. Download the Green New Deal Communities organizing guide.


2. Join or form a local committee or coalition to work on building a Green New Deal in your community. There are some tips on this in the organizing guide, if you need them. 

3. Sign up to get involved in your community and to connect with a pan-Canadian network of folks organizing for local Green New Deals.