SALT LAKE CITY — Perhaps drawing on the Occupy movement as inspiration, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson is working to form a new, national political party.
Anderson said Thursday he has already been networking and building support around the country for a new party, and he hoped to recruit candidates — maybe even for 2012 — to knock off Democrats and Republicans alike.
"These two parties can't do it and we know they can't, because they're getting paid off by the people who are benefiting from these gross inequalities," Anderson said. "We, the American people, need to create another option."
Anderson, standing on the outskirts of the Occupy SLC camp at Pioneer Park, said he wasn't trying to "co-opt" the Occupy Wall Street movement. Still, he expressed admiration for their aims, ideals and drive.
Anderson contends Republicans and Democrats used to represent different people and interests, but said they've grown too much alike, and they're feeding from the same corporate "trough." Anderson says war has been costly on the budget and future budgets, and Democrats have caved to Republicans in agreeing to a continuation of Bush-era tax cuts. Some decisions, Anderson maintains, have led to a greater economic disparity in this country.
"We have the greatest economic disparity since the 1920s, and it's because of both parties," Anderson said. "We've gone back to the Gilded Age. This is the new Gilded Age, and we know our country can do better."
Members of Occupy SLC expressed some skepticism about being formed or fitted into a party.
Jesse Fruhwirth, a former journalist and now fully part of the Occupy movement at Pioneer Park, said he likes third-party types like Anderson and wants to end what he calls "the corporate coup," but he also offered a warning about intentions.
"We have to be wary of people trying to sort of piggyback, perhaps, on the limelight," Fruhwirth said.
Another man at the park, Oregon small business owner Edward Swift, said he would like to see something new beyond Republicans and Democrats.
Political scientists expressed further concerns about making a long-term dent in the deeply-entrenched two party system.
University of Utah political science professor Tim Chambless said there is room for growth right now, considering the discontent about the economy and a growing number of self-identifying political independents. But he noted Republicans' and Democrats' ability to adapt.
"Usually the two major parties will co-op that major issue in some way or another and therefore the voters will feel basically satisfied — and so the third-party effort soon afterwards dies," Chambless said.
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