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Building Socialist Alternative in the United States
Kshama Sawant's election as city councillor in Seattle has received repeated national media attention.
Kshama is a member of Socialist Alternative - co-thinkers of the CWI in the US. This has helped to revive interest in socialist ideas and establishing Socialist Alternative as a pole of attraction for workers and youth looking to get active in the struggle against capitalist crisis.
Kshama's victory and the heightened national profile of Socialist Alternative come at a time when people are searching for a political alternative to the two corporate parties on a scale not seen in decades.
Across the country, we're growing at a faster pace than we ever have before. Our membership has increased by over 200 since our election victory - and more than half of that growth has been in areas where, previously, Socialist Alternative did not have established branches.
Kshama and Socialist Alternative have shown that we are capable of using our elected position not just as a platform to popularise socialist ideas, but also to energise grassroots movements.
Sawant is using the momentum of our election victory to lead the 15 Now campaign, which is poised to win the highest minimum wage in the US.
As a result, people across the country have been convinced that socialist ideas are an effective guide to strategy for winning real gains in living standards.
In March, 21 cities across the US participated in a week of action for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Branches of Socialist Alternative, including brand new branches, led these actions in support of a truly historic step forward for working people.
Requests to join poured in by the hundreds on our website following Kshama's election victory and again following her appearance on Democracy Now!.
But the largest flood of interest came after Kshama gave a response to President Obama's State of the Union address in January.
The response was viewed online by nearly 100,000 people - more than either the Republican or Tea Party responses!
This shows the demand for an alternative to the pro-capitalist policies of the two major parties. The political impact of Kshama Sawant has spread far beyond Seattle!
In 2014, people have joined Socialist Alternative from 45 new cities - several of them have already developed new groups in their areas.
We're on track to more than double our membership this coming year through recruiting working people across the country.
From the Bay Area, California, to Birmingham, Alabama; from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine; and from Washington, DC, to Honolulu, Hawai'i, new members are organising in their workplaces, campuses and communities.
In February, Socialist Alternative held our first Southern Regional Conference with activists from Florida, Alabama, and Louisiana.
Socialist Alternative's first member in Hawai'i, Thomas Nishimura, joined after seeing the coverage of Kshama's election victory on Al Jazeera.
He explains that he was looking for "a presence that has the direction and strategy to help lift the people of Hawaii out of the fog and to break free from the chains of corporate imperialism.
"The time is right to build a strong force of workers to oppose the two-party system in Hawai'i!"
People across the US are seeking out a socialist alternative to the global crisis of capitalism. Carolyn Elerding of Columbus, Ohio, is building a new branch of Socialist Alternative in her community because "it seems that more and more people want to work together to address the inequalities built into our current system."
Our numbers are still small considering our massive goals to transform society, but our recent growth shows the tremendous trajectory of Socialist Alternative.
This year, we will play a key role in Seattle and beyond in the fight to increase the minimum wage. We are also well-positioned to be the left-wing of the coming move toward independent working class politics.
Within this process, we will be educating hundreds of new activists in the methods of socialism and working class action.
In The Socialist 23 April 2014:
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
Socialist Party workplace news