Rocky Anderson spoke last night at University Methodist Church near UW in Seattle on his third-party bid for Presidency.

Rocky Anderson

Photos courtesy of Andy Kern.

Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, is running under the banner of the Justice Party, which he formed last November.  So far only Mississippi has officially recognized the Justice Party (according to wikipedia). Anderson is trying to gather enough signatures to have the Justice Party certified in Washington and other states.

He spent much of the speech defending charges that his candidacy would at most represent being a “spoiler” (similar to what happened in 2000 with Nader).  His main argument was that progressives need to draw the line in the sand somewhere, and President Obama has crossed too many such lines:  indefinite detention, drone killings of civilians (800 civilians, including 180 children), assassination of American citizens, Obama’s broken promise to oppose immunity for telecommunications companies who spied on Americans. I add: and what about the prosecution of whistle-blowers while the criminals are given a free pass?

The US has a plutocracy: government by the wealthy.  Nobody on Wall Street was held accountable, though they knowingly packaged junk mortgages into AAA-rated bonds that got sold to pension funds.

Change won’t come through the Republican-Democratic duopoly.

Anderson listed three specific responses to the “lesser-of-two-evils” argument.

  1. If we let that argument prevail, we’re guaranteeing a continuation of the status quo.
  2. He also said that Obama may not be the lesser of two evils, but he is certainly the more effective of two evils. He said that Obama has done things that Bush would not have gotten away with, because there would have been opposition. Obama neutralized opposition, allowing the NDAA, drone war, more spying on Americans, the financial bailout with no strings attached and no strong regulatory measures to prevent Wall Street from doing it again. Indefinite detention without trial is truly un-American. Think of it: no trial, no lawyer, no recourse.
  3. Where do we draw the line?

We need to get over the sense of hopelessness. Don’t give up on anything. Occupiers often forgot electoral politics. But the new policies do need to be made into law. That happened during the Civil Rights era; mass demonstrations eventually led to electoral and legislative change.

He said that torture was absolutely disallowed as official policy, from the revolutionary war until the Bush years. US Law requires the prosecution of torture, but torture is now openly bragged about and ignored. He mentioned the war crimes act and the convention on torture.

Anderson talked about there being a class of people to whom the law does not apply. Americans used to distinguish itself from brutal dictatorships who had indefinite detention, persecution of dissenters, torture…

He recalled the sense of joy he felt as a young lawyer when he successfully prosecuted three police officers who had abused a young gay prisoner. The three policemen in double-breasted suits were shown justice by the judge. When the scales of justice weigh the evidence fairly, the powerless regain power. Recently, the powerful get away with much injustice.

“It breaks my heart to think of the young people who came of age in the last ten or twelve years.”  Their job prospects and student debt are dismal. And bankers convinced Congress to make it impossible for students to overcome debt by declaring bankruptcy. “We’ve become an unrecognizable nation.”  700,000 people a year go bankrupt from medical costs.  The US has some of the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality among developed nations, due to so many people being without health care.

Anderson said that even if your candidate (himself) doesn’t win, you’ve still sent a message.

Outside the venue, supporters of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein handed out fliers.

Rocky took time to answer questions — about drug policy, drones in Seattle, foreclosures, student loans.  Anderson showed sympathy for an emotionally distraught women whose home was being foreclosed.

One man said that he agrees with Anderson except that we can’t allow Romney to appoint justices to the Supreme Court.  Anderson replied that the Court appointments shouldn’t be allowed to trump other considerations. If we follow that reasoning, we’ll never see change.  After all, the US Senate voted something like 98 to 2 in favor of Antony Scalia for the Supreme Court.

Another questioner asked about privatization of the prison system. Anderson said that some private prison companies have actually lobbied in favor of stricter sentencing laws.

Another questioner asked: why did you run for President and not for Congress. The Tea Party had great success at fielding Congressional candidates. Running for President is hopeless.  Anderson replied that in fact he’s got lots of national attention and he’s starting a third party.  I asked whether there will be people running for Congress under the Justice Party banner. Eventually, he hopes.

Anderson supporters in Washington, including Justice Party state chair Linda Boyd and Dorothy Rainer spoke eloquently about the need for accountability and fundamental change in D.C.  Boyd said her right hand is paralyzed  — later explaining that she can’t continue voting for sell-out Democrats such as Obama.

Dorothy Rainer, 84,  is famous for being the pepper-sprayed face of Occupy Seattle in this iconic photo.
Dorothy Rainer
After the speech I went up to her and couldn’t resist giving her a hug.   A long-time activist, Rainey had a big smile on her face.   Here’s “Dorli” with the candidate:
Dorothy Rainer

Boyd recalled that Anderson came to Olympia in 2007 to testify at the hearings on a joint resolution in support of impeachment of President Bush and Vice-President Cheney.  At the hearing, Anderson said, “No clearer case for impeachment can be found than misleading our nation to engage in this tragic and illegal war.” (source)  (See also this article and this video.)   Anderson recalled that many mayors refused to support impeachment because they feared for their jobs and felt it was hopeless.

Anderson recalled that Nixon said to interviewer David Frost: “When the president does it, it’s not illegal.” And the same thing is happening nowadays with wiretapping, indefinite detention, torture, and war-mongering.  (Congress hasn’t officially declared war since World War II.)  After the Watergate scandal, there were commissions (Ford, Rockefeller) and hearings to examine what happened. After Bush & Cheney there’s been no accountability at all. The truth has been swept under the rug.

Boyd and Carol-Davidek Waller report that Senator Patty Murray and Rep. Jay Inslee put tremendous pressure on state legislators to halt the impeachment hearings.  This account is supported by David Postman’s blog post in the Seattle Times: D.C. Dems want to stop legislative impeachment talk.   (In my opinion, Murray and Inslee made a HUGE mistake in opposing impeachment; such wimpiness is the reason why the Dems got a shellacking in the 2010 elections.)

Anderson is spending today giving interviews to several radio and broadcast stations. Rocky’s interview with KUOW will air Monday, May 7, at about 9:40 AM.