Rocky Anderson Responds to Questions

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What is your occupation?

I practiced law for 21 years in the areas of antitrust, securities fraud, professional negligence, and civil rights litigation. I served two terms as the Mayor of Salt Lake City from 2000-2008. I was the founder and served as Executive Director of High Road for Human Rights from 2008-2011.

Where are you from?

Salt Lake City, Utah

Briefly describe your educational background, any past political campaigns, and any work you’ve done as an activist.

Education: I received a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Utah, graduating magna cum laude. In 1978 I graduated, with honors, from George Washington University, attaining a J.D. degree.

Political campaigns: With the help of dedicated campaign workers, contributions from hundreds of individuals, and a huge volunteer organization, I ran an aggressive, principled campaign for Congress as the Democratic nominee (following a successful primary campaign) in Utah’s Second Congressional District in 1996. Without any financial help from the Democratic Party, but with record contributions from individuals, I garnered over 100,000 votes in the District. Even when pitted against the Republican incumbent Merrill Cook’s 98% initial name recognition and the expenditure of almost $1 million by Cook of his own money, I received 55% of the votes cast in Salt Lake City, versus 39% for Cook. However, I lost the race because of a lack of support in a very conservative area, where there was obvious hostility toward my early principled stand in favor of marriage equality. In 1999, I ran for Mayor of Salt Lake City, running well ahead of 10 primary election opponents, then prevailing 60% to 40% in the general election. I was reelected for another four-year term in 2003.

During my two terms as Mayor, I implemented perhaps the nation’s most comprehensive restorative justice programs, created city-wide after-school and summer programs, and was considered by many to be the “greenest mayor” in the U.S. During my service as Mayor, I reduced greenhouse gas emissions from city operations by 31% in three years and was one of the top climate protection activists in the world, winning the World Leadership Award in London for environmental programs and advocacy.

As Mayor, I successfully fought many important battles, including victories for mass transit, wise long-term growth planning, greater respect toward and egal protections for minority communities (including equal benefits for gays and lesbians and their partners), and for unprecedented youth programs. I also uccessfully challenged the state’s English-Only law and opposed grandstanding Homeland Security campaigns against immigrant workers. Salt Lake City was the only city in Utah that engaged in collective bargaining, which I whole-heartedly supported as Mayor.

Activism: As an activist, I have had opportunities to serve in various capacities with several organizations, including as Founder and President of High Road for Human Rights; Founder and President of the Board of Citizens for Penal Reform; President of the Board of ACLU of Utah; President of the Board of Guadalupe ducational Programs; Member of the Board of Utah Common Cause; and Planned Parenthood Association of Utah Board Member. Honors have included the Bill of Rights Defense Committee Patriots Award; EPA Green Power Leadership Award; League of United Latin American Citizens Profile in Courage Award; Sierra Club Distinguished Service Award; Business Week’s Top 20 Advocates in the World for Climate Change Action; Top 10 Straight Advocates in the USA for LGBTQ Equality y Human Rights Campaign; Code Pink’s Pink Star Award; Richard J Dennis Drugpeace Award (Drug Policy Alliance); EPA Presidential Award (National Association of Hispanic Publications); and World Leadership Award (World Leadership Forum).

Describe how your candidacy would promote the Peace and Freedom Party (“PFP”), and how you expect the PFP to promote your candidacy.

Both my campaign and the Justice Party were launched to radically change the system of government, including our electoral system, by eliminating the corrupt plutocracy — that is, government by the wealthy — and ensure instead that our government finally represents the public interest.

The first priority in an Anderson presidency is to get money out of politics by passing a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling and implementing public financing for elections. A people’s evolution — an overthrow of the dictatorship of corrupting money in government — is imperative to end the plutocratic alliances that dictate the corrupt policy decisions in Washington that run counter to the public interest.

We look forward to the opportunity of cultivating a symbiotic long-term alliance, because we are both committed to the eradication of the corrupt corporatist and militarist system.

What attracts you to the PFP?

Our shared mission to promote substantial changes so our the government will concern itself with the issues of ordinary people, not simply the bourgeois elite.

Do you have any experience that would be particularly useful to you as a presidential candidate – such as public speaking experience, union organizing experience, teaching experience, or the like?

I have extensive, decades-long experience with public speaking and teaching,
and have worked successfully as a vigorous advocate for social, economic, and
environmental justice.


1) Foreign Policy.

My approach toward foreign policy is based around three pillars:

  1. Eliminate militarism and empire-building: The US must never again
    engage in an illegal war of aggression. (The U.S. and its allies prosecuted
    defendants at the Nuremberg Tribunal for aggressive war, an international
    crime).  An Anderson Administration will respect the UN Charter and
    international law, and cease aid and assistance to countries that do not.  I
    would also faithfully observe the restraints of the War Power Clause of
    the Constitution, pursuant to which Congress has the sole prerogative to
    decide whether the United States should engage in war.
  2. Moral leadership: We will no longer support regimes that abuse
    human rights and suppress democracy, and we will lead the way in protecting
    human rights and insisting on accountability by those who engage in unlawful
    abuses of human rights.
  3. Economic rationality: We will close down all overseas military
    bases that are not demonstrably critical to our security, along with at
    least a 50% reduction in the military budget. (The U.S. military budget
    is now larger than the military budgets in all other nations combined.)  This
    money will be allocated to domestic priorities, including reducing the
    accumulated debt and interest burden. As Martin Luther King said, every
    dollar spent on a missile is a dollar taken from a child’s education, or
    the food budget of a poor family.

2) Economy.

An Anderson administration would provide strong leadership to ensure that collective bargaining rights, such as those under attack recently in Wisconsin, are fully protected and improved. Further, the federal minimum wage, which has declined by 30% in real terms since the late 1960s, needs to be increased to at least $10 per hour. These will be key mechanisms in ensuring that the benefits of increased employee productivity accrue to the people responsible for them – the employees – and not just the management and investors. This will stop and reverse the decline in real wages experienced by working people since the 1970s.

I am also committed to promoting fair trade to ensure the rights of laborers abroad, as well as the environment, are protected. Our responsibilities for equality and human rights don’t stop at our borders. By being lenient in the conditions that we attach to trade agreements with other countries, we ensure lives of misery for millions of workers who make the products we use every day.

Also, we will preserve and restore millions of jobs in the U.S. by bringing into balance the worker and environmental protections in the U.S. and in nations where U.S. corporations seek to employ people.

I would also repair and enhance our nation’s rapidly deteriorating infrastructure and employ millions of people in initiatives modeled after the WPA and CCC programs implemented by the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.

3) Health and Health Care.

There are many high-quality systems of health care the United States can replicate – all far superior to our absurdly expensive, inefficient, tragic system. The United States should learn from the very best among other nations, then take decisive action.

We should adopt a health care system like Taiwan’s single-payer system (which is the most efficient in the world) or Canada’s single-payer system (which is consistently Canada’s most popular social program).

To put these systems in perspective relative to the United States, in 2005, health expenditures in Taiwan were 6.2% of GDP; in Canada 10.1%, and in the U.S., 16.5%.  The most recent figures show that health care expenditures have continued to grow in the United States since 2005, now over 17.5% of GDP.

The United States must end its bizarre reliance on for-profit insurance companies for essential health care.  We are spending far too much, our medical utcomes are mediocre, and we are the only nation in the industrialized world that fails to provide millions of people with basic health care.

While the U.S. spends more than twice per capita than the average spent by all nations throughout the industrialized world for medical care, it obtains far worse results than most, and is alone in failing to provide essential health care to all of its citizens.

The United States should no longer be the only country in the developed world that has a grossly unequal health care system – a system that condemns millions of people to unnecessary illness and death solely because they don’t have enough money. The provision of essential health care, including preventive care, should never be dependent on how much money a person has. This is not simply a political issue; it is fundamentally a moral issue.

4) Civil Rights.

a) What parts of the Patriot Act should be eliminated and what,
if anything, should be retained?

The Patriot act should be repealed in its entirety. A robust defense of civil liberties will be a key focus of an Anderson administration. I will garner public support to push for the following policies and practices:

  • Oppose retroactive immunity for individuals or companies that have violated
    federal law.
  • Abolish the right of federal agencies to spy on US citizens without a
    warrant, based upon a showing of good cause.
  • Eliminate the obligation of third parties to hand over documents concerning
    other persons to federal agencies without a court-issued warrant.
  • Abolish “sneak and peak” provisions enabled by the Act. Searches should
    only be conducted with a warrant delivered prior to the search, not subsequently
    (absent exigent circumstances).
  • End indefinite detention of foreign and U.S. citizens. Everyone has the
    right to charges, legal representation, habeas corpus, and a fair trial.

With these significant changes, the U.S. can begin the process of recapturing
the principles of liberty upon which it was founded, while still safeguarding
the security of its citizens.

b) What do you think the chief aims of the criminal justice system
should be, and what are your views on the death penalty?

It is essential that reforms are made which focus on restorative rather than
punitive goals and objectives.

I implemented perhaps the nation’s most comprehensive restorative justice system
when I was Mayor of Salt Lake City.

I have been a long-time opponent of the death penalty and worked with a coalition in Utah that favors alternatives to the death penalty, such as life in prison without possibility of parole. I also led the organizing efforts for a 10-day protest before the state-sanctioned killing of William Andrews, an African-American sentenced to die although he didn’t kill anyone and he was not even present during the commission of any murders.

c) What is your position on “gay marriage,” and what can the
President do to facilitate the adoption of that position?

I’ve been proud to consistently support full marriage equality. When I ran for Congress in 1996, I unequivocally advocated for marriage equality — and adamantly opposed the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law by President Clinton. As Mayor of SLC, I signed an Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in hiring on account of sexual orientation, I was Grand Marshal in the Gay Pride Parade, and I flew the rainbow flag over the City & County Building on Pride Day. I received recognition by HRC as one of the top ten straight advocates for the GLBT community.

The President can be the nation’s strongest and most persuasive advocate for marriage equality, rather than playing politics with the issue by timidly claiming, as President Obama has, that his thinking about marriage equality is evolving.

5) Immigration.

I was honored to receive the first-ever Profile in Courage Award from the League of United Latin American Citizens (the largest Latino organization in the U.S.) and the Presidential Award from the National Association of Hispanic Publications because of my advocacy for fair, compassionate immigration reform.

My approach toward an immigration solution would put qualifying, otherwise law-abiding, undocumented immigrants on a path to legal residence and eventually citizenship to let them seek what we all seek—to work, to provide for their families, and to live in peace.

Immigration processes should be streamlined so that waiting lists do not extend toward an indefinite future. In matching laws to practices and practices to laws, visa quotas for unskilled and semiskilled workers must be raised to meet the needs of U.S. employers. In addition, to enhance our nation’s global competitive edge, the rules and regulations for highly skilled immigrant workers should be better tailored to U.S. economic needs.

Long-term immigration challenges cannot be solved unilaterally. The U.S. must develop stronger bi-national and multi-national relations with and among immigrant-sending countries to harness immigration for our economic and societal well-being.

Integration of immigrants is critical at local, state, and national levels. The U.S. has long been a welcoming country for immigrants. Sadly, this reputation has suffered in recent years.  I will provide the strong leadership that forges through the gridlock, polishes the U.S. image, and builds on our history of integrating immigrants for the compassionate enrichment of our economy, society and culture.

6) Education.

We need to provide better education, greater innovation to keep up with the rest of the world. Education is a fundamental force to the civil evolution not just of the United States, but the entire planet. Therefore it is an investment. Because if this, I support free universal education from preschool through college and, at the very least, significant assistance for those who pursue graduate degrees. Also, there must be relief for those students or former students who are stuck with huge student loans that Congress determined should be non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.

7) Environment.

It often is said that the United States has no energy policy. That isn’t true. Our national energy policy has been clear for generations: We are committed to using the dirtiest and most volatile forms of energy; to undermining economic tability and the health of our people; and to defending our energy supplies by sending our children to war.

I firmly believe that the United States must lead a global energy revolution – the deliberate transformation to a low-carbon, sustainable energy future. It not only is the smart thing to do; it’s America’s moral obligation. We have led the world in carbon emissions. Now we must lead in developing the technologies that will create new markets for American businesses while allowing people around the world to achieve a decent quality of life with clean and sustainable energy. With intelligent energy policy, the United States can do well by doing good.

(8) Election Improvement.

I am personally outraged, but not surprised, that President Obama has decided to accept money from Super PACs, as permitted by the appalling Citizens United ruling.

This is gross hypocrisy on the part of the President. The systemic corruption of our government starts with money — essentially bribes that both parties receive with slavish devotion to the contributors, where the people get shafted.

We need to come together to overrule, forever, through a constitutional amendment, the Supreme Court opinion in Citizens United. Campaigns should be publicly funded. Candidates should be entitled to free and equal time on the public air waves. That would enhance the dialogue, educate voters, and promote democracy in significant ways.

9) Your Campaign.

a) What are the realistic goals of your campaign, and what are your strategies for achieving those goals?

I will impress upon the American people, through a comprehensive communications campaign, the potential we as a nation have to end government that serves primarily those who buy the elections and bring about substantial reforms to ensure social, economic, and environmental justice.

Listed below are ten points of action I will undertake as President::

  1. The promotion of the public interest through the defeat of the systemic
    corruption that has caused massive failures in public policy, including,
    most urgently, the protection of U.S. jobs through renegotiation of trade
    agreements, initiatives like the WPA and CCC programs, and jobs training
    and education that will restore the United States’s competitive edge.
  2. An immediate end to the on-going wars.
  3. Essential health care coverage for all citizens.
  4. Urgent international leadership by the U.S. to prevent against the most
    catastrophic consequences of climate disruption.
  5. Adequate revenues to balance the budget through fair taxation.
  6. Treatment of substance abuse as a public health, rather than criminal justice, issue.
  7. Control of the Federal Reserve by the Treasury Department and Congress.
  8. A balanced budget (or a surplus) except in times of war or major recession.
  9. An end to the legal concept of corporate “person-hood;” a constitutional amendment to overrule Citizens United.
  10. An end to the stranglehold on our government by the military-industrial complex.

Our campaign, which has already reached millions of Americans (see the many national broadcasts on which I have appeared in just three months at and is constantly raising awareness about the opportunity we have to turn things around dramatically in our nation. We are empowering people to be successful activists through persistent engagement. And we are building a powerful people’s movement that will ultimately bring about major positive changes in our government and our electoral system.

b) What makes you more appealing to “the 99%” than Barack Obama, and how can you most effectively communicate that?

My lifelong activism on civil liberties and environmental issues makes me an appealing candidate, especially when compared to Obama’s corporatist and militarist record, as reflected in his approval of multi-trillion dollar bailouts, big business cabinet and other high-level appointees, his neglect of climate change, his support for anti-environmental policies that enrich the fossil fuel industry, and his belligerent war-mongering foreign policy.

c) How do you think socialist candidates could succeed in the future?

The vast majority of Americans support social democratic programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, free public education, and single-payer health care. We need to organize at the grassroots to strengthen or achieve those type of programs that provide more equal opportunity, greater security, and a more compassionate nation. Coalition-building is imperative, as we all work together to expand equal opportunity, in areas such as higher education, economic security, and health care.