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A Challenger for Obama? Progressive Former Mayor Rocky Anderson Enters Race With New Third Party

Vowing to fight the influence of money over politics, Anderson kicked off his campaign Monday.

AMY GOODMAN: A new political party has entered the fray as an alternative to Democrats and Republicans ahead of the 2012 elections. On Monday, the Justice Party formally kicked off its formation with an event in Washington, D.C. Former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson will run for president on the Justice Party ticket.

Although hailing from a solidly red state, Rocky Anderson has been known as one of the most progressive mayors of any major U.S. city in recent years. During his two mayoral terms from 2000 to 2008, Anderson was an outspoken champion of LGBT rights, environmental sustainability and the antiwar movement in opposition to the war in Iraq.

Vowing to fight the influence of money over politics, Anderson kicked off his campaign Monday with a pledge to limit individual donations to $100 a person. He and the Justice Party say they hope to build a grassroots movement heading into the November 2012 elections.

To discuss his campaign, Rocky Anderson joins us from Washington, D.C.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Rocky Anderson. Why have you launched this party and a presidential bid?

ROCKY ANDERSON: We launched the Justice Party because the entire system is so corrupt. It's so diseased. 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.

AMY GOODMAN: Third party, what does that mean now? How exactly will you run for president?

ROCKY ANDERSON: Well, actually, I consider this a second party. The Republican-Democratic parties have--although they're at an impasse, much to the detriment of the American people, on some issues, they really, through their collusion, have brought this country to its knees economically. Without the Democrats colluding with the Republicans, we would not have engaged in an illegal, aggressive war against Iraq. We've seen Democrats and Republicans together granting retroactive immunity to the telecom companies. Then-Senator Obama promised this nation, before he won the Democratic primary for the presidency, that he would join a filibuster against telecom company immunity. And then, as soon as he won the nomination, of course, he not only didn't only back off on his promise to join a filibuster, he voted for the legislation. Who in this country gets Congress to grant them retroactive immunity for committing clearly felonious acts?

And then, now we see the same thing. He comes into office, and he says, "Let's look forward, not backwards," when it comes to war criminals, people who have engaged in torture, clearly in violation not only of international law, but domestic law. So, we have this two-tiered system of government. Not only a two-tiered system in terms of our economy, with very few privileged people cleaning up while the rest of us are suffering in so many dramatic ways because of the economic upheaval, but we have this special class of people who aren't even held accountable under the law. And all three branches of government are part of this. The courts allow the executive branch to come in, and they dismiss cases on the basis of the subversive state secrets doctrine, where the executive branch gets to determine whether these cases go forward--victims of torture, people who are challenging illegal surveillance programs by the government. Amy, this is unprecedented in this nation and so completely contrary to the notion of an equal justice system.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama delivered a widely discussed speech in Kansas last week that many saw as an overture to the Occupy movement and its opposition to corporate dominance of the U.S. economy. In what was widely described as a preview of his re-election campaign, Obama positioned himself as a defender of working-class Americans versus Republicans who favor the wealthy.

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