Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson (photo: wickenden)

*The following is a guest post from Steven Higgs of the Bloomington Alternative, which is a biweekly journal of news and commentary published in Bloomington, IN. The publication is committed to promoting and celebrating progressive social change and independent media in Bloomington. For more, visit the Alternative‘s website, especially if you are live in or nearby Bloomington.

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Former Salt Lake mayor says Democrats, Republicans sustain corrupt system

by Steven Higgs

Presidential candidate Rocky Anderson is running on the Justice Party ticket. He says Barack Obama has accepted more Wall Street money than any candidate in U.S. history.

Americans who feel betrayed by timid, capitulatory leadership from Democrats like President Barack Obama and Indiana Senate candidate Joe Donnelly now have a candidate to consider at the presidential level. On Dec. 12, 2011, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson announced his candidacy on the Justice Party ticket and the next day laid out a solidly progressive agenda on Democracy Now!

“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,” Goodman said in her introduction to the report. “During his two mayoral terms from 2000 to 2008, Anderson was an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, environmental sustainability and the antiwar movement in opposition to the Iraq War.”

On both Democracy Now! and in a Dec. 12 article in The Guardian, the former Democrat embraced the Occupy Movement.

“There is clearly a convergence of interests regarding the concerns we have and the concerns of Occupy Wall Street,” he told The Guardian. “There’s little I’ve heard from the Occupy movement that I would disagree with, and I think there’s little we support that they would disagree with.”

American media ignored Anderson’s announcement. Searches for his name on the Washington Post and New York Times produced no results.

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The Justice Party is needed because the American political system is “corrupt” and “diseased,” Anderson told Goodman.

“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.”
“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.” – Rocky Anderson
Obama’s Kansas speech on income inequality last week was “total hypocrisy,” Anderson said. The president has accepted more Wall Street money than any other candidate in history, and he is surrounded by alumni from Goldman Sachs.

“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,” he said. “And not one of them has been brought to justice under the Obama administration.”

Anderson compared Obama’s Wall Street contributions and subsequent timidity to his relationship with polluting industries from whom he took money and then effectively vetoed EPA efforts to impose more strict ozone standards on them.

“We know that’s not in the public interest,” he said. “President Obama has to know that’s not in the public interest. He’s serving the interest of those polluting industries.”

The corrupting influence of money from the medical insurance industry is why America is the only country in the industrialized world without a single-payer health care system, Anderson added.

“The failure – in terms of every major public policy issue – to serve the public interest can be attributed to that corrupting influence of money,” he said. “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.”

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The same day Anderson announced his candidacy in Washington D.C., Donnelly lent credence to the characterization of Democrats and Republicans as two faces on the same tarnished coin in comments he made at a diner in Indianapolis. According to an Indiana Public Media report, the Second District congressman seeking incumbent Republican Richard Lugar’s U.S. Senate seat next year expressed support for the Keystone XL Pipeline through the Western United States.
“Without Democrats voting the way they did in Congress, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. We wouldn’t have suffered as a nation because of these Bush tax cuts.” – Rocky Anderson
The pipeline would transport synthetic oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Northeastern Alberta, Canada, to U.S. refineries from Illinois to Texas. James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute, has said it will be “game over” for the climate if the Alberta oil sands become a major source of world oil.

“President George W. Bush said that the U.S. was addicted to oil,” Hansen said in an Aug. 29, 2011, story posted on the Reuters website. “So what will the U.S. response to this situation be? Will it entail phasing out fossil fuels and moving to clean energy or borrowing the dirtiest needle from a fellow addict?”

Choosing the dirty needle would show Obama, whose State Department this year has postponed a decision on the pipeline until at least 2013, “was just greenwashing, like the other well-oiled, coal-fired politicians with no real intention of solving the addiction.”

Donnelly linked his Dec. 12 comments to Republican efforts to legislatively tie the pipeline to an extension of the payroll tax cut. “If that being in this bill makes it impossible to get this bill done, there are other points at where we can get the Keystone Pipeline squared away,” he said.

The next day, Lugar issued a news release one-upping Donnelly on Keystone. The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tied the pipeline to national security and jobs as he criticized the State Department’s delay. “America’s workers and security takes a backseat to the president’s effort to save his own job,” Lugar said in the release.

Anderson said it is clear that change will not happen with these two parties.

“There are lots of good individuals in the Democratic party,” he told The Guardian. “[But] without Democrats voting the way they did in Congress, we wouldn’t have invaded Iraq. We wouldn’t have suffered as a nation because of these Bush tax cuts.”

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Two-party collusion on retroactive immunity to telecom companies is another example of bipartisan decay, Anderson said on Democracy Now!.

“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,” he said. Not only did he not filibuster, he voted for the legislation. “Who in this country gets Congress to grant them retroactive immunity for committing clearly felonious acts?”

The same goes for Obama’s about face on domestic “war criminals” who engaged in torture in violation of international and domestic law, Anderson told Goodman. “We have this special class of people who aren’t even held accountable under the law.”
“We have this special class of people who aren’t even held accountable under the law.” – Rocky Anderson
To politically counter the corruption, the nation needs elected officials “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,” he said.

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Anderson told Democracy Now! that launching the Justice Party followed substantial input from all over the country that demands a new direction for American society.

“It seemed that the notion of justice – economic justice, social justice, environmental justice – that’s what the people in this country want,” he said. “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.”

Today’s politicians are not leaders, he said. They defer to polls and political considerations, not the public interest.

“You see these people bouncing back and forth,” he said. “They’re unrecognizable from one moment to another. And it’s because of the basest political considerations. How are they to be trusted?”