Seattle's Socialist City Councilor Offers Radical Response to Obama Speech

Though Republicans tied themselves in knots and exposed their party’s extensive internal rifts by offering four separate rebuttals to President Obama’s State of the Union on Tuesday, a development that received less attention was the short response to the speech offered by recently-elected Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

Sawant, who won her seat running as an open Socialist while supporting a $15 minimum wage for local workers, called out the president for betraying an array of his 2008 campaign promises and falling short of subsequent opportunities after more than five years in office.

Unfortunately, Sawant said in her remarks, Obama’s presidency “has betrayed the hopes of tens of millions of people who voted for him out of a genuine desire for fundamental change away from corporate politics and war mongering.”

In a frank and unflinching critique not seen or heard on the broadcast or cable news shows, Sawant described Obama’s renewed focus on income inequality as an indictment of his own failures and misguided economic policy.

Pointing to record high poverty and the fact that “95% of the gains in productivity during the so-called recovery have gone to the top 1%,” Sawant argued that Obama’s rhetoric on inequality has been forced on him by popular “outrage over the widening gulf between the super-rich” and the millions of workers, many working in low-wage retail and fast food jobs, who generated that wealth.

Overall, in a rebuke of both major political parties, Sawant pointed out the crisis of democracy in the country. “The political system is completely dysfunctional and broken. It is drowning in corporate cash,” she said. “Working people, youth, people of color, women, the elderly, the disabled, immigrants – the 99% – have no voice or representation.”

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The text of her prepared remarks follow: