Left Candidates – Rocky Anderson

The candidate who has received the most publicity is former (2000-2008) Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. He recently founded the Justice Party. He was formerly considered a liberal Democrat. Wikipedia states that he was a proponent of “national and international causes, including climate protection, immigration reform, restorative criminal justice, GLBT rights, and an end to the ‘war on drugs’. Before and after the invasion by the U.S. of Iraq in 2003, Anderson was a leading opponent of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and related human rights abuses. Anderson was the only mayor of a major U.S. city who advocated for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, which he did in many venues throughout the United States.”

Announcing his resignation from the Democratic Party in 2011, he stated, “I’m done with the Democratic Party. As I said on Amy Goodman’s show a couple years ago, I’ve put my ‘Proud Democrat’ coffee mug in storage. I think now I’ll just throw it in the garbage and have done with it.” He also stated that “the Constitution has been eviscerated while Democrats have stood by with nary a whimper. It is a gutless, unprincipled party, bought and paid for by the same interests that buy and pay for the Republican Party.” (rockyanderson2012.tumblr.com/ post/16589120187/rockys-letter-to-the-democrats)

At the same time, while mayor of Salt Lake City he was a fiscal conservative, emphasizing balancing the city budget. He put an emphasis on local businesses over out-of-state businesses. He still stresses his position of fiscal conservatism.

After announcing his presidential campaign, he stated on Democracy Now!: “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 noted, “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.” Also, he stated: “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.”

“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.” (www.democracynow.org/2011/12/13/ex_salt_lake_mayor_ rocky_anderson)

On his website, he “supports increased tax on investment income; immediately ending the Bush tax cuts; cutting defense spending significantly; offering tax incentives to firms who hire U.S. workers and disincentives to those that don’t; splitting up too-big-to-fail banks; and he opposes hiring ex-financial executives as advisors to the president on economic policy.” He also supports a system of universal health care and marriage equality. He prides himself on being “a leading and unflinching opponent of the wars of the Bush-Obama Presidency” and having been “one of the top 20 activists in the world on climate change.” He has pledged to limit individual donations to his presidential campaign to $100 per person.

While Rocky Anderson has put forward many issues and policies that will resonate with voters, he is still very much an unknown among the broader public. While he comes from a liberal capitalist political background, he is moving in a left-populist direction, is breaking from both parties, and is looking to promote popular reforms to the capitalist system. His biggest weakness in terms of his demands is his emphasis on fiscally conservative economic policies and a lack of bold demands to raise workers’ living standards, such as a dramatic increase in the minimum wage, massive public works programs to create jobs for the unemployed, repealing Taft-Hartley and other anti-union laws, etc.

Despite his break from the present two-party system, he does not have a base in social movements. Also, he does not have an organization and is relying on social media to build his campaign. His website is www.voterocky.org. Socialists need to watch to see if he is able to connect to the Occupy movement and build a base among activists that would enable him to become a real force in the election.