The Real News Interview: ‘Why is Rocky Anderson Running for President?’

Below are the video and transcript of an interview with Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City and 2012 presidential nominee of the recently formed Justice Party, from the Real News Network.

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Bio

Rocky Anderson is the presidential candidate and founder of the newly-formed Justice Party. Anderson served as Mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah for two terms, and he rose to nationwide prominence as a champion of several national and international causes, including climate protection, immigration reform, end to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, restorative criminal justice, GLBT rights, and an end to the “war on drugs.”

 

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington.

Well, if you watch television these days, you’d think there will only be two candidates for president, President Obama and Mitt Romney—the most likely Republican representative. But in fact there is another serious challenge, serious at least in terms of his ideas. I guess it’s yet to be determined how serious it can be in terms of actual effect. That person is Rocky Anderson. Rocky is the leader of a new Justice Party. He’s running for president, and he was the mayor of Salt Lake City. Thanks very much for joining us, Rocky.ROCKY ANDERSON, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, JUSTICE PARTY: It’s great to be with you. Thank you.JAY: So a lot of our viewers may have seen some of your interviews on some of the other, I guess, alternative networks. You’ve also been on some mainstream television when you announced the Justice Party. So instead of going over your whole program again—and we may even link to some of those interviews—I want to jump into one point that you’ve been focusing on, and that is the issue of money in politics. And you’ve been talking a lot about the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. But that money in politics certainly existed before such a decision. You know, the 1 percent of the 1 percent has been more or less dominating U.S. politics, almost, maybe, since there was a United States of America. And you talk about the need for new paradigm, sort of addressing the system, not just changing the faces of the president. So how do you grapple with this sort of deeper problem?ANDERSON: Well, our system has been rotten to the core for many years. The Citizens United case just made it so clear how bad it really is. Finally the American people are sitting up and paying attention.I was on the board of directors of Utah Common Cause for a number of years, going up to our state legislature, urging them to pass legislation to prohibit gifts by lobbyists to legislators year after year. They acted toward us with such utter disdain, as if there weren’t a problem with legislators sitting on the front row of Utah Jazz games or being given golf packages or ski packages. It is just amazing how bribery has taken over our system of government, how those with the wealth really are in control. And it is at the bottom of every major public policy disaster in this country.Why are we the only industrialized nation on the face of the planet without a central health care coverage for every citizen? It’s because of the corrupting influence of money in our system, from the health insurance industry, from pharmaceutical companies. Same reason why we have these high drug prices. Why do people go to Canada to get the same drugs that they could buy in this country, but at much lower prices in Canada? It’s because of the corrupting influence of money from the pharmaceutical industry.JAY: Now, one of the—at the core of a lot of this is the control of the banking sector. And when it came time to—when the banking sector, after their own casino activities essentially led them to collapse and they needed a public bailout, that seemed to be a moment where there could have been some real challenge to that power, ’cause certainly the power of money in politics comes from this concentration of ownership. And when the big banks were on their knees and they needed the public money, one would have thought that was an opportunity to do something about it. So if you’d been president in 2008, what would you have done differently?ANDERSON: Well, certainly we needed to stabilize our financial system, but there should not have been this carte blanche given by Congress and the White House as we’re giving the banking sector billions of dollars, but without conditions. Nobody said you’ve got to be providing this money for loans for small businesses, for people who are trying to get into their first homes, pay off their mortgages, all these millions of people that are underwater in their homes. There were none of those protections for the American people. It was just another bailout for the banks, and then these folks kept stuffing their own pockets with millions of dollars.How anybody that got us into these problems in the first place, much of it through financial fraud—and we know that now—how they even maintain their positions of power in these entities, let alone getting the bonuses that they’ve taken away with taxpayer money—. And I blame not the greed on Wall Street so much, because we expect people on Wall Street to be greedy, and especially if they’re playing by the rules, to take advantage. But we have hired, through our elections, people in Washington and Congress and the White House who are supposed to be protecting our interests, and instead they’ve been betraying us every single day, as they’ve been the lap dogs for the financial industry.JAY: Well, how do you assess, then, Dodd-Frank and whatever regulations have actually come out of Dodd-Frank? What do you make of those efforts?ANDERSON: Well, I think it’s a good first step, obviously, but it’s in a sense window dressing. Why have we not brought back Glass-Steagall? Why do we allow there to be any banks that are considered too large to fail? That’s the whole problem is they know that they can engage in these very risky, sometimes illegal, sometimes fraudulent activities and there’s not going to be accountability. How do they get to that point? Well, they give more, for instance, to President Obama’s campaign than ever before in the history of this country, and so the Obama administration, they have not prosecuted one person for the illegal conduct that helped lead to our economic disaster, from which people are still reeling in this country.How is it that Goldman Sachs can be selling to their customers these perverse products, and at the same time betting billions of dollars against them without disclosing that to their own customers, to their own clients, and nobody pays a penalty for that? How can they market these instruments with these toxic mortgages, mortgages that they had to have known would not be paying off? How do they market those as AAA investments, the lowest-risk investments possible? How do they do that? And then the bottom falls out and not one person brought to account. That’s a pretty good return on their investments [crosstalk]JAY: Now, one of the things that’s been suggested by some of the economists we’ve been talking to is that there needs to be some way—an alternative form of banking, in other words—that one of—the power of the banking sector on Wall Street is partly in their ability to, you know, as you say, finance political campaigns, and especially if you look at what happened at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission when they tried to develop position limits. The lobbying effort was about 100 to 1 pro-Wall Street lobbyists to reformers. And they bring to bear massive resources. So very little gets done, both in terms of legislation and regulation. And some people are suggesting what there needs to be is some form of public banking so that there isn’t this form of blackmail. You know, this too-big-to-fail is essentially blackmail: you don’t come bail us out, your economy will be destroyed. So what’s your sense of this proposal of some form of banking as a public utility?ANDERSON: Well, I think there should be a people’s bank, in effect, where we’re not dependent on these large banks anymore. And I do think that these—any bank that’s considered too large to fail, that there ought to only be one thing that’s too large to fail, and that’s the American middle class. We should be breaking up these banks. Glass-Steagall should be put back into law so that you don’t have investment banks and lending banks and insurance companies all together, because that—without that, we would not have faced this economic crisis. And we owe it to the American people. Our government ought to be serving the public interest, rather than simply the interest of the folks at Goldman Sachs and the rest on Wall Street.But what do we expect when the president of the United States has surrounded himself with these folks? He’s not surrounding himself with public advocates. He’s surrounding himself, in terms of policy, with these Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street folks who go through this revolving door in government. And so there is so much that we can do if our government, if Congress and the White House were really focused on the public interest.The control of the Fed, for instance: why is it that the Federal Reserve can be basically under the table without disclosure, without congressional oversight, without congressional approval, be pushing out billions of dollars to the banks that are essentially controlling the Fed? It is the most corrupt system. Alan Greenspan going to Congress and saying publicly—and everybody treating him as if he was some kind of oracle—encouraging people to go to adjustable-rate mortgages, and then almost immediately he starts raising interest rates. I think there were 17 increases in a row in the interest rates, so that people who were going out, following his advice, getting those adjustable-rate mortgages, were absolutely getting hosed, when the banks once again were cleaning up.So we know of these problems. It’s time that we respond and that those who are elected to represent our interests start doing that. And we need—at the very top, we need somebody in the White House that’s going to make this case very clear to the American people and create the political demands so that nobody in Congress can ever get away with doing what they’ve done in the past, where there will be a real political price to be paid for those who continue to serve as the lackeys for the financial institutions who have taken such gross advantage of deregulation at the detriment, to the detriment of the American people and so many other millions of people around the world.JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Rocky.ANDERSON: Thanks so much.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

27 thoughts on “The Real News Interview: ‘Why is Rocky Anderson Running for President?’

  1. Melty

    I wonder if Rocky Anderson has said he wants the Americans Elect nomination. He’d fit in well there.

  2. Root Sucks

    @1

    Are you kidding? I hardly think Rocky Anderson, who is arguably running to the left of Obama, would fit in “well” on a ticket sponsored by centrist, status quo financiers.

  3. Green Party Voter

    Rocky should affiliate his state party to the Green Party.

    Rocky has been invited to join the Greens by Dr. Jill Stein, and many other Greens. Dr. Stein said they have a “friendly, collaborative” ongoing discussion.

    Join the Green Party, Rocky!

  4. Melty

    @2 “left of Obama” is bereft of meaning to me

    I get the impression the center of gravity at Americans Elect is left of center. Anyhow, they’re into the fusion concept at AE, ya know. Their nominee and their vice must be of differing parties, so they have in mind one right-leaning and one left-leaning. That way folks can’t agree on how to whine “spoiler” on em.
    You’ve got a point, though. They’d ideally go for a pair o nominees that’re neither of em far from center.

  5. Melty

    Among the top few dozen draft candidates at Americans Elect, there’re way more hard lefties than hard righties. In the top twenty right now you have Sanders, Nader, Kucinich, Anderson, Stein… the hard lefties’re movin up faster too.

  6. Root Sucks

    I think it is a mistake to look at the “draft” candidates as being representative of that movement. As we all know, it is much more difficult to “draft” a candidate than it will be to throw your support behind the candidate that will inevitably supported by the AE bigwigs. Additionally, the “top” followed draft candidates have no more than a couple dozen to couple hundred followers. I would have to guess that AE is going to find a way to encourage more participation and will eventually introduce a centrist (or center-right) individual. I still think it’s going to be Bloomberg. Put another way, Bernie Sanders, even if he was open to the idea, would never be the AE nominee. Wall St. financiers do NOT drop millions in the name of “democracy” only to have their brand co-opted by a true progressive.

  7. Melty

    The two of us are talking about two difrent things, Mr. Sucks. I’m talking about your average AE “supporter” n your talking about “bigwigs”.

    As you, and others on here’ve pointed out, the bigwigs seem to’ve overestimated participation. If they dont lop some zeros off o their elligibility numbers there aint gonna be even one candidate elligible.

    Still, da strangest thing to my notion is how nothing is sed about who would even take their precious nomination. Like ya say, Bernie Sanders’d never take it. Same goes for Ron Paul. Same goes fror the entire list of draft candidates! …almost. So far I’ve heard of one who says he wants it – Buddy Roemer. Some few others may come forward, but how is it that they aint got Roemer’s name in flashing letters – “dis guy says YES!!”?? It’d be awful sorrowful to de organization, and it’s bigwigs, if their chosen nominee sez, “thanx but no thanx.”

  8. Melty

    quote from 7, “Wall St. financiers do NOT drop millions in the name of “democracy” only to have their brand co-opted by a true progressive.”

    I say, they also do NOT drop millions in the name of “democracy” only to have their brand co-opted by a true libertarian.

  9. Melty

    What I wanna know is, why would they bother if it’s Obama versus Romney? Wall Street financeers can’t go wrong with those choices.

    Since the Unity ’08 mission got aborted early, we’ll soon see for the first time what these AE “bigwigs”‘re made of. Maybe they want, say,.. Huntsman. He’d be nicely complacent, but what if he decides it aint in his intrests to accept? Their experiment flops for all eyes to see. The unforeseen has a way of happening.

    I dunno what TL;DR means, Mr. Sucks.

    It occurred to me that maybe the AE bigwigs decided to create Frankenstein’s monster before some folks with purer intentions do …or something like that. And even the monster of their own making may take on some kind o life of its own.

  10. paulie

    Among the top few dozen draft candidates at Americans Elect, there’re way more hard lefties than hard righties. In the top twenty right now you have Sanders, Nader, Kucinich, Anderson, Stein… the hard lefties’re movin up faster too.

    I don’t think that matters much at this point in the game.

    Which candidates will accept the draft?

    Which candidates will actually seek the nomination?

    Will any of those be disqualified by the candidate credential committee?

    Will Bloomberg, or someone else, spend a lot of money advertising for people to join AE close to nomination time and vote for them, swamping all existing draft efforts?

  11. paulie

    Wall St. financiers do NOT drop millions in the name of “democracy” only to have their brand co-opted by a true progressive.

    I tend to agree.

    There could be kinks though.

    Maybe the plan is to swing the race to either Obama or the Republican by undermining their base.

    Maybe it’s just to get above 5% or whatever the thresholds will be so they can run for Congress in 2014 and/or be on the ballot in 2016 without having to petition.

    Maybe it’s to divide the electoral votes so that no one gets a majority, sending the presidential selection to the US House (advantage Republicans).

    Maybe it’s for someone they like to actually win. Recall that Perot led both Bush and Clinton in the polls in ’92 prior to dropping out and then back in.

    Maybe it’s for someone they don’t like – say Ron Paul or Bernie Sanders – to actually win and then take the fall for a coming economic collapse that they know it’s too late to prevent.

    Maybe it’s just to suck up the protest vote and make sure the Libertarians or Greens don’t gain any traction.

    Lots of possibilities there.

    BTW the current draft numbers:

    http://www.americanselect.org/candidates/most-supported

    Ron Paul 2,075 (Probably won’t accept, but you never know)
    Huntsman 1,078 (Huntsman has said he won’t run AE and has endorsed Romney, but would he change his mind if Santorum or Gingrich gets the nomination?)
    Sanders 822 (Probably won’t accept, but you never know)
    Obama 678 (Can’t accept, most states don’t have presidential fusion)
    Bloomberg 476 <---- interesting that Bloomberg was never among the most tracked candidates, but is now among the most supported ones. Colbert and Roemer tied at 355. Roemer would accept, and may be the "backup" candidate. Interesting to see if Colbert makes an effort to get more people to draft him if/when Bloomberg or someone like that unveils a similar effort. Gary Johnson, 332. Probably won't accept unless he somehow loses the LP nomination AND can wait to accept or decline until after that. Otherwise no. Jon Stewart, 242. See above re: Colbert.

  12. paulie

    As you, and others on here’ve pointed out, the bigwigs seem to’ve overestimated participation. If they dont lop some zeros off o their elligibility numbers there aint gonna be even one candidate elligible.

    Rules can change anytime they want, and an advertising campaign by AE and/or candidates could vastly increase participation. It’s still early in their game.

    Like ya say, Bernie Sanders’d never take it. Same goes for Ron Paul.

    Maybe, maybe not. They probably wouldn’t, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they might.

    Same goes fror the entire list of draft candidates! …almost. So far I’ve heard of one who says he wants it – Buddy Roemer.

    See above. I haven’t seen Bloomberg says he wouldn’t accept it.

    There’s an outside chance that Ron Paul or Gary Johnson might accept it if they have time to make up their minds about that any later than the LP nomination.

    Huntsman could conceivably change his mind if, say, Santorum is set to be the Republican nominee.

    Interested to see if Colbert and/or Stewart might make a play for it, or someone else – say Trump or Ventura?

  13. paulie

    I say, they also do NOT drop millions in the name of “democracy” only to have their brand co-opted by a true libertarian.

    Unless they want to, say, have true progressives or true libertarians blamed for the next depression? One possible scenario.

  14. paulie

    What I wanna know is, why would they bother if it’s Obama versus Romney?

    See some of the scenarios above.

    Also, it’s not yet clear that it will be Romney.

    Maybe they want insurance in case it isn’t.

    Huntsman. He’d be nicely complacent, but what if he decides it aint in his intrests to accept?

    Huntsman already said no. But again, that could change if Romney loses. Trump may also go for it if it’s, say, Santorum?

  15. Root Sucks

    Melty, thanks for the clarification. I think that I would agree with your assessment. While I do not think that AE has a “typical supporter” quite yet, I would imagine that it would be someone who falls between center and center-left.

    Paulie, those are some interesting scenarios. While they are all certainly plausible, if I had to bet, I would still say that AE is still either a Bloomberg vehicle or a vehicle for another big name “centrist” that the leaders will put forward. I am, however, intrigued by your suggestion that AE might be an intentional spoiler. Let’s say that AE does indeed want to siphon centrist or center-left voters away from Obama. In this case, I would suggest that it doesn’t really matter who the nominee is (so long as it is someone with a shred of credibility. Heck Roemer might even cut it!). This is an interesting discussion and I’m excited to see what comes of it. I’ve recently been wondering about what is being said inside Obama’s war room regarding AE. His campaign has obviously not made a public comment on the effort, but I highly doubt that it is being ignored altogether.

  16. paulie

    if I had to bet, I would still say that AE is still either a Bloomberg vehicle or a vehicle for another big name “centrist” that the leaders will put forward.

    I agree that seems to be the most likely scenario, and that Bloomberg is the most likely (but not only) possibility that fits that mold.

    It’ll be interesting to see what actually happens.

  17. bruuno

    Tom Golisano’s name is being floated. He might take it and has money. But how do they rig it so he gets the nomination? Maybe a Roemer/Golisano ticket? They say the P and VP have to be different parties and that would fit (assuming Golisano is still Independence)

  18. Ad Hoc

    But how do they rig it so he gets the nomination?

    Not hard to do in a completely or mostly above ground fashion. Just spend some money on ads asking people to join AE and vote for Golisana, Bloomberg, or whomever. Go on a national media blitz. And voila! Shouldn’t take much to swamp the number of votes that candidates are attracting thus far.

  19. Melty

    Paulie
    From answering of few dozen of the AE questions and looking at how each of the answers rate for popularity, I get the impression of overall centerleft.

  20. paulie

    From answering of few dozen of the AE questions and looking at how each of the answers rate for popularity, I get the impression of overall centerleft.

    that’s just the people that signed up at AE so far, not the leadership, nor the greater numbers candidate(s) will be likely to recruit through ad campaign(s).

  21. Melty

    The only other candidate besides Buddy Roemer that I’ve heard of who’s said he wants the AE nomination is an economics professor named Laurence Kotlikoff (he ranks just below Rocky Anderson in supporters right now). Are there any others so far who say they care? I think it’s odd that this inf is nowhere on their site. I would think they would want all their voters to know the day a draft candidate actually pipes up sayin, “me, me!”

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