By Jerre Wroble
First, we should say that Rocky Anderson is himself a former civil-rights attorney. And a two-term mayor of Salt Lake City before Becker. In 2011, he disavowed his Democratic Party membership and got the bug to run for president as a third-party candidate. He founded the Justice Party in early 2012 and teamed up with his vice-presidential running mate, Chicano poet, novelist and journalist Luis J. Rodriguez, whose poetry is highlighted in this issue. They were able to get on the ballot in 15 states, including Utah. In about 25 other states, they will have write-in status.
"Don't let the Legislature know this, but Utah is actually one of the more democratic states," Anderson says, "in giving voters a real choice by allowing third-party or independent candidates on the ballot without enormous obstacles."
Anderson is also the nominee for the Progressive Party in Oregon, the Natural Law party in Michigan and the Independent parties in New Mexico and Connecticut. Those parties already had ballot access and nominated Anderson to fill the presidential slot on their 2012 ballot.
In the Sept. 27 City Weekly article "Lonesome Road," the outspoken candidate bemoaned the uphill battle for third parties to get on ballots. Republicans and Democrats have made ballot access impossible for all but the most flush of third parties, he says. "Even the Green Party will have spent more than a million dollars in this race," he says.
Not only that, but the media's fixation with the Romney/Obama race to the exclusion of the third-party candidates has allowed the Democrats and Republicans to control the conversation.
Anderson feels that if not for the media blackout, third parties could have had more impact on the presidential race and forced Romney and Obama to address topics they'd rather sweep under the carpet. "Climate change is like Pearl Harbor getting attacked over and over again, and nobody even talks about it," he says. "There's nothing more urgent or consequential to the Earth's inhabitants now and in the future. It's shameful that neither of the candidates and none of the moderators ever brought it up."
The nation's prison population also weighs on Anderson's mind. "We have by far the world's largest incarceration rate, much of which is driven by this insane failed war on drugs that costs our nation billions of dollars. We have 5 percent of the world's population and 25 percent of the world's prison population. Incarceration alone costs our nation $63.4 billion dollars."
And topping his list of bullets that Romney and Obama dodged is what he calls "the expansion of the imperial presidency" that threatens our nation's civil and human rights. "We are on the path toward totalitarianism," he says, "when the president and Congress claim that the federal government can simply kidnap anybody and imprison them without any semblance of due process, where American citizens can be targeted for assassination by the president, and where we have almost no privacy rights anymore under the Patriot Act and the amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."
That presidents Bush and Obama led the nation in wars against countries that posed no danger to the United States--in defiance of the war-power clauses of the U.S. Constitution, without Congress first making the determination that we should go to war--alarms Anderson.
"Where were the lawyers when it comes to the rule of law?" Anderson asks. "Obama's saying, "Let's forget about these war criminals and about those who illegally spied on Americans--all of those being federal felonies. Let's just forget about them and move forward.' Where are the lawyers?"
On Oct. 23, C-Span broadcast the Free & Equal Presidential Debate, the only televised third-party debate. Moderated by veteran talk-show host Larry King, the debate featured the Justice Party's Rocky Anderson, Constitution Party's Virgil Goode, Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson and Green Party's Jill Stein. View the program at VoteRocky.org/free_and_equal_debate.