FLORIDA, June 11, 2012 — After articulating his reasons for seeking the presidency this year, and saying more than a little about his stances on key fiscal, national security, and social issues, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has much more to share.
First and foremost, what is the issue that he deems most important in his campaign? Secondly, why, exactly, is he more qualified to be president than either of his two main opponents; President Obama and Mitt Romney?
Last, though most certainly not least, does Anderson honestly believe that he can win this November’s general election, or is his third party candidacy a vehicle for communicating ideas?
Joseph F. Cotto: Chances are that I have not asked about the most important issue to you in this race. What is it and why? How do you believe that your standpoint would benefit the American public?
Mayor Anderson: The most pressing issue is eliminating the corrupting influence of money in our political system. Washington, D.C. is bought and paid for. The results have been horrific for the American people. As President Eisenhower warned us, the military-industrial complex still has a strangle-hold on Congress — and now on the White House. Health care reform in the interest of the people has been denied in favor of legislation that benefits the for-profit insurance companies and pharmaceutical industry that invested many millions of dollars in campaign contributions and lobbyists. For-profit colleges continue to rip off students and taxpayers alike, largely because of Democratic lobbyists who blitzed against reform legislation.
While those who own vast amounts of concentrated wealth have their way with Congress and the White House, the American people continue to get shafted. I would push, even if it takes a constitutional amendment, for repeal of the Citizens United case, which allows unlimited amounts of corporate money to corrupt our electoral system. I would advocate a system of public financing for campaigns and for free and equal access to the public airwaves for qualified candidates. That would enhance our democracy immensely and help lead to the election of people who fulfill their duties to the American public rather than acting as if they are on retainer to those who buy their way into office.
Cotto: This fall, your chief opponents will be President Obama and Mitt Romney. Why do you feel that you are more qualified to lead this country than either of them?
Mayor Anderson: Unlike President Obama (who had no management or executive experience before he was elected President) and Mitt Romney (who spent almost his entire adult life in the pursuit of money in a private equity firm), I have the education and experience that would be ideal for a president, and have a record of integrity, passion, and effectiveness in pursuing the highest public values.
Unlike Mitt Romney, I walked away from the LDS Church as a young man because of my serious concerns about many aspects of the religious organization, including its outlandish racism against people of African descent. Also unlike Mitt Romney, when I was a young man, I opposed the U.S. war against North Vietnam. I have always inquired deeply about matters of morality and have tried to live my life accordingly. Instead of pursuing primarily monetary rewards during my 21 years as a practicing lawyer, I focused mostly on providing a means of obtaining justice for people who were harmed as a result of abuses of corporate and governmental powers. I successfully represented people who had lost their life savings in failed financial institutions, people who were injured from the excessive use of force by police officers, mentally ill inmates who were mistreated (one of them died as a result) while incarcerated, and victims of antitrust violations.
I was a dedicated volunteer in my community, serving as president of the Utah ACLU Board, president and founder of Citizens for Penal Reform, president of Guadalupe Educational Programs, a member of the board of Utah Common Cause, and a member of the board of Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. I served for eight years as Mayor of Salt Lake City, during which time I provided national and international leadership in combating climate chaos and in building communities in a clean, sustainable manner. I stood almost alone among mayors in fighting against the abuses of the Bush administration, including the war of aggression against Iraq and the related human rights outrages. I earned the highest award from the Sierra Club, the “Profile in Courage” Award from the largest U.S. Latino organization (LULAC), and numerous other awards and recognitions from various human rights, GLBT, Latino, and environmental organizations.
I chose not to run for a third term as Mayor so I could dedicate myself to human rights advocacy and organizing. I founded and served as Executive Director of High Road for Human Rights for 3 1/2 years. Extremely concerned about the state of our nation, and the consequent state of the world, and with the corruption of the two dominant political parties, I co-founded the Justice Party in December 2011 and am that party’s candidate for President.
Cotto: For better or for worse, the following question is one often asked of candidates not belonging to a major party. Is your candidacy intended to raise awareness about the plethora of issues not frequently discussed by the so-called mainstream media, or are you honestly in this race to win it?
Mayor Anderson: Recognizing that I am facing incredible challenges, particularly with the dearth of mainstream media coverage and hundreds of millions of corrupting dollars being poured into advertising by the Romney and Obama campaigns, I find great inspiration from previous social movements in the U.S., where dedicated people, organized and mobilized at the grassroots level, brought about enormous changes, even when up against wealthy people and institutions.
Among those movements are the anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements. I also find inspiration from the Arab uprisings, where people at the grassroots level cared enough about overthrowing their dictators that, utilizing the democratized means of communication offered by social media, they organized and fought tenaciously until they succeeded. We, too, utilizing social media, can get out the word, network, and fight together until we overthrow the dictatorship of corrupting money in our political system.
What a struggle that should prove to be; especially after the infamous Citizens United ruling.
Our discussion has been both extensive and informative. Now that it is almost at its end, what led Rocky Anderson to not only his presidential run, but his lengthy career as a sociopolitical polymath of sorts?
Find out in the concluding part four.
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