No 364 Posted by fw, December 14, 2011
A new political party has entered the fray as an alternative to Democrats and Republicans ahead of the 2012 elections. On Monday, former Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson announced he will run for president with the newly formed Justice Party. Although hailing from a solidly red state, Anderson has been known as one of the most progressive mayors of any major U.S. city in recent years. Vowing to fight the influence of money over politics, Anderson kicked off his campaign on Monday with a pledge to limit individual donations to $100 a person. Anderson and the Justice Party say they hope to build a grassroots movement heading into the November 2012 elections. “We launched the Justice Party because the entire system is so corrupt,” Anderson says. “It’s so diseased. We know that the public interest is not being served by anyone in the system right now, particularly the two dominant parties who have sustained this corrupt system and who are sustained by it.” —Democracy Now!
Rocky was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now yesterday. A 21-minute video of the interview follows, along with an abridged transcript, including my subheading to facilitate skim reading of this long post.
We launched the Justice Party because the entire system is so corrupt. It’s so diseased. We know that the public interest is not being served by anyone in the system right now, particularly the two dominant parties who have sustained this corrupt system and who are sustained by it.
Well, actually, I consider this a second party. The Republican-Democratic parties have—although they’re at an impasse, much to the detriment of the American people, on some issues, they really, through their collusion, have brought this country to its knees economically.
Without the Democrats colluding with the Republicans, we would not have engaged in an illegal, aggressive war against Iraq. We’ve seen Democrats and Republicans together granting retroactive immunity to the telecom companies. Then-Senator Obama promised this nation, before the primary, before he won the Democratic primary for the presidency, that he would join a filibuster against telecom company immunity. And then, as soon as he won the nomination, of course, he not only didn’t—he didn’t back off—only back off on his promise to join a filibuster, he voted for the legislation. Who in this country gets Congress to grant them retroactive immunity for committing clearly felonious acts?
And then, now we see the same thing. He comes into office, and he says, “Let’s look forward, not backwards,” when it comes to war criminals, people who have engaged in torture, clearly in violation not only of international law, but domestic law. So, we have this two-tiered system of government. Not only a two-tiered system in terms of our economy, with very few privileged people cleaning up while the rest of us are suffering in so many dramatic ways because of the economic upheaval, but we have this special class of people who aren’t even held accountable under the law. And all three branches of government are part of this. The courts allow the executive branch to come in, and they dismiss cases on the basis of the subversive state secrets doctrine, where the executive branch gets to determine whether these cases go forward—victims of torture, people who are challenging illegal surveillance programs by the government. This is unprecedented in this nation and so completely contrary to the notion of an equal justice system.
Well, it’s total hypocrisy. President Obama received more money from Wall Street than any other candidate has ever received in a presidential or any other election campaign. And he surrounded himself with all these alumni from Goldman Sachs. Not one person, Amy, has spent one day in prison as a result of the massive financial fraud that we know took place by these Wall Street firms, and the people that work for them, that did so much damage to the American people. All any of us have to do is look at our pension plans, our 401(k) accounts, and we can see the direct impacts of this economic disaster, brought to us through, by and large, these criminal acts committed by these Wall Street firms and their employees. And not one of them has been brought to justice under the Obama administration.
When they make these campaign contributions, they get a very good return on their investment. But it’s no different, really, than the polluting industries making their campaign contributions, and then the EPA wanting to impose more strict ozone standards, and President Obama basically vetoing the EPA. We know that’s not in the public interest. President Obama has to know that’s not in the public interest. He’s serving the interest of those polluting industries.
That’s why we don’t have real healthcare reform in this country. We’d have a universal healthcare system like the rest—every other nation in the industrialized world, were it not for the corrupting influence of the money flowing in from the medical insurance industry. So, that’s what—the failure, in terms of every major public policy issue, to serve the public interest can be attributed to that corrupting influence of money. Just follow the money, and you’ll see why Congress and the White House are pursuing these policies that are so inimical to the interest of the American people.
Well, and it’s been evident from the very beginning that as long as people are not being held accountable under the law, as long as there are not sanctions, as long as we continue having banks that are considered by these regulators, who, by the way, are these Wall Street alumni who end up going back to Wall Street and raking in millions of dollars—but when they get to decide that these banks are too large to fail, we’re just setting ourselves up for another major economic disaster. We need a party. We need candidates. We need people in public office who are pledged not to just represent the people’s interest in the same system, but to change the system and get the corrupting influence of corporate and other concentrated wealth out of our electoral system and out of our system of governance.
I registered with the Federal Election Commission, the Justice Party. And we did a lot of vetting over the name, probably took too long to do that, but we got a lot of input from all over the country. And it seemed that the notion of justice—economic justice, social justice, environmental justice—that’s what the people in this country want. They want an equal playing field. They want the laws to apply to everyone equally. And they don’t want our Congress and our president simply serving the interests of the economic aristocracy in this country any longer.
There is a greater economic disparity between the very wealthy and the rest of us in this country, greater than at any time since the 1920s. And we need to get things back to the point where we’re building up a strong middle class. You know, when you hear about Newt Gingrich proposing that we give these massive tax favors, once again, to the very wealthiest, and not giving a break to the middle class and the poor in this country, that—it’s an obscenity. The loss of revenues from the Bush tax cuts, which have been perpetuated now both between the Republican and Democratic parties, it’s been devastating to our economy. It’s been devastating to our budget. And the next generation—it’s like we’ve taken out this credit card in the name of our children and just ran it up recklessly, not bringing in the revenues to help pay it down. We’re paying more in interest payments—total waste—more in interest payments every year on the accumulated debt than it takes to run 13 departments of the federal government. We can do much better than this as a country. And we, as a people, need to understand, we can do this from the bottom up.
So, what does it mean to run for president? We’re going to do this very differently. It’s going to be through a grassroots movement. We’re going to use social media. If other nations can carry on their revolutions and bring in a complete change of government through that kind of grassroots organizing and use of social media, how democratizing, how amazing is that? Those are the kinds of things we’re going to be doing. And we’ll show that that’s how we can win elections, by appealing to the people on the streets, people who are impacted every single day by this failure in terms of public policy at both the congressional level and in the White House.
These people who are willing to ignore the catastrophic consequences of climate change in order to get elected, rather than providing the leadership that we as a nation need and that the international community needs, I think it’s unconscionable. And once again, that’s where we see our government completely failing the people, not only of this nation, but people around the world. And it’s because of the corrupting influence of the fossil fuel industry, the coal, oil and gas companies that pour so much money into these campaigns, and impacting what Congress does and now what the White House is doing.
These politicians are not leaders. They’re being led around by the polls. They’re being led around by the political considerations. I was mayor of Salt Lake City, the capital of probably the most conservative state in the country. And, Amy, when I was there, we reduced greenhouse gas emissions from city operations by 31 percent in three years. I went around the country and spoke in other nations about best practices, the dangers of climate change, how we all need to come together. I spoke at meetings at three of the United Nations COP meetings, Conference of the Parties meetings, about climate change and what the solutions are and how we can all contribute to them. I’ve been working at this for so many years, and I’ve stayed entirely consistent. You see these people bouncing back and forth. They’re unrecognizable from one moment to another. And it’s because of the basest political considerations. How are they to be trusted? And in the end, how is the public interest going to be served, when they’re taking a look at nothing but the polls, rather than what needs to be done to move our nation forward?
What we’re doing, I think, converges beautifully with the Occupy movement, and what they’re doing converges beautifully with what we’re doing. I think that the Occupy movement is one of the most promising things I’ve seen, especially from young people, in decades, because they get it, they’re willing to take action, and I think that it’s really been enlightening for the American people to see that we can do this from the grassroots and really take on a system that has been so corrupt and has so disserved the American people and the public interest.