In Left Libertarian circles there tends to be a lot of dogmatism in regards to electoralism. On a national level these critiques have much more standing but on a local level they tend to be overly simplistic.
A good example of working class advocacy on the local level is Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative Party. Sawant is a councilmember sitting on the City Council of Seattle who is largely responsible for the “Millionaire Tax”, the raising of minimum wage to $15 hr, and the continuing national campaign that followed it.
She has also used her platform to advocate on the behalf of the LGBTQ community, denounce attacks on Gaza, empower teachers, call for general strikes, (a call the then major, Ed Murray, found “unfortunate and perhaps even tragic”. Murray has since stepped down on multiple allegations of sexual abuse.), and much more.
As a salary she only accepts $40,000 a year vs the average councilmember making around $117,000 a year. The rest of the salary going to “social justice causes” such as strike funds, environmental, and other labor based campaigns.
“Inevitably, such a salary removes Councilmembers from the realities of life for working people. I will only take home $40,000 per year. This amount is roughly the full-time take-home pay of a Seattleite.” – Kshama Sawant
While her positions don’t reflect a Municipalist platform she has done a lot to improve the material conditions of working class people in Seattle from a local government seat.
It is important to note that third parties and independents tend to do much better in local elections vs national ones. As of 2018 Green Party US holds 156 seats in local government and the Libertarian Party holds 174 and 3 at the state level.
Furthermore a lot of the seats I will mentioned later in this article are uncontested. In most cases the only candidates that run for them are the incumbents themselves and could easily be replaced for little or no money with a campaign strategy focused around canvassing and face to face interaction with the electorate.
In this article I would like to explore a theoretical basis for what a Cascadian Municipalist Party would look like.
1) The party, at large, will not advocate on behalf of single issue topics. The party’s position is to reform political and economic structures towards local control.
2) This party is inherently anti-Fascistic as these ideologies seek to hyper-centralize power based on religion, race, etc. and as such are detrimental to our goals. This includes but is not limited to Nazism, ethnic separatism, Third Positionism, etc.
3) This party rejects prescription of various economic or political systems beyond Municipalism. We reject one size fits all solutions to the problems we face. Communities must be free to adopt the solutions they see fit.
4) As Municipalists we support Bioregionalism however we are not political secessionists. Independence stems from direct control of the factors that affect our lives not from the redrawing of political lines. Political secessionism is not only non-pragmatic but presents a false image of what independence means.
While most parties focus on the state and national level a Municipal Party would flip this model on its head and focus almost entirely on a localize level. Depending on the locality, elected positions could include city councils, county commissioners, school boards, zoning boards, treasurers, county auditors, soil and water conservation districts, and even sheriffs.
Restoring local control would go beyond the realm of political power and extend into returning power for directing production back towards communities as well. This could take the form of municipalized utilities, distributed water collection systems, community based cooperatives, worker cooperatives, housing cooperatives, hack spaces, etc.
A tiered system would be developed by which those elected under the party will pay dues based on what the elected position pays. The reason for this being that there is a massive disparity between the pay of elected officials. In some localities elected official aren’t paid at all. This fund will be used for two purposes the first being the funding of dual power projects that cannot, for whatever reason, be accomplished through the elected officials directly. A couple of projects that could fall within this scope could include funding for cooperatives, intentional communities, community gardens, etc. Secondarily the fund would be used within the party for campaign funding, however, as stated above these funds should be very limited.
As an extension of our Bioregional beliefs the party would not participate in any elections that extend beyond its own bioregion. This would apply to any local elections outside of Cascadia and national political positions. This template could, however, be applied to other bioregions if so desired.
If such a party were to materialize it should be ready for the next round of elections roughly two years from now. That is plenty of time to solidify an agreed upon platform, file paperwork, rally candidates, and gather some capital.
People are looking for alternatives to our current political situation. As such those who are seen as outsiders are looked upon favorably, for better or worse. Those who are staunchly against electoralism must come to terms with the fact that there are still many that believe in the system (and perhaps always will) and as such we should use it to our advantage as much as possible.
The American people are facing many dire threats, to be truly revolutionary, we must be willing to use all tools available to us if we wish to turn things around.
Musician, Health Coach, Homesteader, Permaculture/Aquaponics Guru, Expat, Klamath regional coordinator, project manager, and writer for Free Cascadia.
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