Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councillor and member of the Socialist Party’s sister organisation in the US, gave a video response to Barack Obama’s sixth State of the Union Address in late January.
Sawant’s response contrasts the rhetoric of Obama’s speech with the grim economic reality that the majority of Americans face, with a widening gap between rich and poor, unaffordable housing and cuts to social services.
Sawant contrasts this situation with the historic success of the grassroots campaign for a $15 minimum wage in Seattle. She emphasised the need for organised working class movements to spread to other cities in order to improve living standards.
Sawant hammers the failure of Obama’s Democrats to properly address issues like institutionalised racism and climate change. Although the Republicans gained ground in the mid-term elections, movements such as the People’s Climate March and Black Lives Matter demonstrate that their views are unrepresentative of ordinary Americans.
Rather, those gains are a reaction to widespread disillusionment with Democrat policies, seeking to “punish” them by voting for the opposing party. Kshama Sawant’s response is both a cutting critique of Obama’s hypocrisy and an urgent call to action for the working class to reclaim their country.
By Jeremy Trott