“The Justice Party will strive to bring about a peaceful nation that respects the inherent dignity of all people, is in harmony with nature, provides equal opportunity for all its people, and obeys and enforces domestic and international law.“
So begins the national platform of the Justice Party.It goes on to describe the damage that excessive partisanship has caused and how only a grassroots movement can bring about positive change. The party's goal is to serve the public interest, to "establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
More from the Justice Party's platform? No, that’s from the preamble to the United States Constitution.
The Justice Party shares its lofty ideals with many other third parties and progressive movements. Similar rhetoric is even put forth by Democrats and Republicans. So what makes the Justice Party different?
According to Jonathan Ruga, chairman of the Justice Party's National Steering Committee, one of the key differences is the lack of exclusivity.
“One can be a member of the Democratic Party or Republican Party and the Justice Party,” Ruga explains.
“The Justice Party was formed in November of 2011 by a small group of engaged citizens (led by Rocky Anderson, the former mayor of Salt Lake City) because the founders believed that the duopoly (the Republican and Democrat Parties) has been co-opted by big corporate interests and other concentrated sources of wealth. In other words, the two major parties no longer represent the interests of the people.” - Jonathan Ruga, the Justice Party
Ruga describes how our current system, flooded with corporate money, yields to the interests of powerful industries and has seen disastrous results. The effect of money in politics is often attributed as the root of many current evils, and the Justice Party is quick to agree.
The fix, according to the Justice Party, will come from the rise of a third party working in tandem with a larger social movement. Ruga describes how:
“While there are many upstanding men and women in Congress, the system is broken and is almost impossible to fix from the inside (although people like Senators Sanders and Warren and Representatives Grayson and Ellison have embarked upon a valiant effort). The forces of the status quo are simply too powerful. And the other third parties, i.e., the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, and the dozen or so others, have been in existence for many years and have been unable to gain any meaningful electoral success.”
But how the Justice Party will succeed where others have not is less clear. Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party's 2012 presidential candidate, received only 43,000 votes, a seventh place finish, behind even the socialist Peace and Freedom Party.
In 2016, Ruga expects the Justice Party and other candidates outside the two major parties to have only limited electoral success. Yet, he cites four important benefits that still result:
- Creating awareness that voters have choices beyond the duopoly candidates.
- Promoting issues and solutions different than those currently being offered.
- Influencing and changing the positions of the duopoly candidates.
- Engaging segments of the population left out of the political system (i.e., Millennials).
Ruga sums it up: “The ultimate success of the Justice Party will be determined by the extent to which its message resonates with people in this country who are disgusted with and/or have lost confidence in the Republicans and Democrats, and who recognize that those parties have largely been co-opted by big corporate interests.”The Justice Party is currently evaluating whether to mount a presidential campaign or to focus on state and local elections. The awareness that a presidential campaign creates is crucial, but Ruga also recognizes the structural barriers that exist (i.e., ballot access) and that “extraordinary level of resources are required” to overcome them. While it considers which path to follow, the Justice Party is working toward developing its state organizations.
The Justice Party hopes to achieve its vision for social, economic, and environmental justice by building a social movement. Will the party succeed where others have failed? Can the Justice Party do for the progressive movement what the tea party did for conservatives?