We have endorsed Stephanie Gallardo because she has a solid track record of fighting on behalf of working people, from her leadership role in the National Education Association (the largest union in the country) to her grassroots campaign for Congress, where she refuses corporate cash. We believe The Stranger’s endorsement of Adam Smith fundamentally misunderstands power, both at the level of how congressional committee positions work, as well as the larger strategies of how to build power for the left and the working class.
The SECB provides a deeply flawed argument for supporting Adam Smith as a lesser evil to Joe Courtney. This kind of argument is akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Barring a miracle, Democrats are predicted to become a minority party, both in Congress as a whole and on the House Armed Services Committee. A flip means Adam Smith’s committee position will be held by a Republican, making arguments about the committee positions of both Smith and Courtney moot. Even in a scenario where Democrats keep the House, the differences between Smith and Courtney are minor; both serve military contractor interests and find wide agreement with their Republican colleagues on the House Armed Services Committee.
More importantly, we cannot build power for the working class by continuing to support a politician who is accountable to monied interests, not to the people of his district. When politicians are unaligned with our interests and unwilling to seriously oppose the forces that oppress working class people, we cannot afford to let them remain in power. Not only do they not fight for us, but they take the spot of someone who will. To build left power, we need to elect representatives who will fight for us, and we must fortify the power structures that advocate for working class interests, including forming unions and alternative political organizations through which we can exert mass pressure on politicians.
Gallardo’s approach to fighting for working people is based on this understanding of building power from the ground up. She understands that for elected officials to make wins for working class people, they must be backed by deep community organizing and movement building that pushes for policies that people need. Rep. Cori Bush showed us an example of how this kind of an oppositional organizing approach can work in Washington with her sit-in on the Capitol steps, which won a 60-day moratorium on the eviction ban. We need more of this kind of a fighting approach in Washington.
Smith, while notoriously quiet, is primarily known for his work on the House Armed Service Committee, where he secures ever-increasing funding for military contractors while his campaign’s largest source of funding comes from the defense industry. The U.S military is the largest single-organization contributor to greenhouse gasses. People around the world are increasingly suffering from extreme heat and devastating changes to their climate. Someone beholden to the military-industrial complex is never going to be able to adequately tackle the climate crisis at the scale and urgency that we desperately need.
The Stranger’s endorsement gets one thing right. There’s a red wave coming, and it’s a red wave that Adam Smith himself is culpable for. This rightward swing is a direct result of Democrats promising that they’ll implement policies to help regular people and then not delivering. As a 25-year incumbent, Smith is part of this class of Democratic politicians under whose tenure working people have seen increasingly worse outcomes via bipartisan action, including lower wages, declining union membership, and losses of basic human rights. The SECB says we have to vote for the moderate as a stopgap, but we cannot fight a red wave by moving right. This is the classic corporate democrat strategy, and it's been losing for working people for decades.
This strategy proposed by the SECB is one that advocates continuing to support politicians that choose not to fight for our interests. The fight over Roe is the perfect example of how this strategy fails in practice. Democrats currently have the power to codify Roe or stack the Court but, instead of doing this, they choose to use the issue to fundraise. In the face of this betrayal of working people and basic human rights, it’s the right wing that gains. In order to fight back against the rise of fascism, we must build a political movement that will consistently fight for our interests and will actually act in our favor when they have power—something fundamentally lacking in our current political system.
Now is not the time to further entrench ourselves into “status quo” politics. Now is the time to support a passionate defender of working people, whose experience is not in serving monied interests, but at union negotiating tables, on picket lines, and in the streets. Vote Gallardo.
Carmen Rivera (she/her), Renton City Councilwoman
Hugo Garcia (he/him), Burien City Councilman
Sunny Rao (she/her), organizer with Seattle Democratic Socialists of America
Varisha Khan (she/her), Redmond City Council