Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente began his successful business career in California's automobile industry. His involvement in politics includes being elected by the California Democratic Party as a Delegate-at-Large (Super Delegate) to the 1992 Democrat National Convention. De La Fuente ran for President in several Democrat primaries before declaring as a third party and independent presidential candidate.
Rocky De La Fuente: I had unfinished business. When I ran as a Democrat in the primaries, I thought I would be given an equal chance. That was not the case. Some state parties unilaterally blocked ballot access, while others imposed ridiculously high signature petition requirements, which I often became the first person in history to overcome.
Many of the 46 states, territories and the District of Columbia, in which I did qualify, tried to block my candidacy in other ways. Some denied acknowledging me on their websites. Some refused to list me on their caucus sign-in sheets, etc. The bottom line is that they did everything in their power to undermine my campaign along with the campaigns of other candidates who did not represent the political establishment.
I decided that the issue of election manipulation and fraud was too big to ignore. The American people need to know what is occurring and how their votes are being abused -- that's why I am still running.
The need for substantive election reform is far bigger than me. I am trying to bring attention to the issue to force the political establishment to address the issue. Every candidate should be treated equally, and every vote should count. Neither of those positions is currently being honored.
Gemma: You've been quoted as saying, "I have always considered myself to be a Democrat, although what that term means has shifted over the years. I probably best fit the term 'Kennedy Democrat.'" What do you mean by that?
De La Fuente: President Kennedy offered balanced leadership. He did not try to enhance his image by denigrating the image of others. He was far more diplomatic than the typical polarizing politicians we see today. I think leadership involves having the temperament to respect others unless they do something so profoundly inappropriate to merit criticism -- otherwise, if you constantly attack others because their political ideology may differ from yours, you will not be able to build the consensus you need to move forward. President Kennedy was a master at building consensus.
President Kennedy was a social progressive -- as am I -- he blended those beliefs with fiscal responsibility. As a businessman, I know you should not write checks you cannot cash. Too often our government officials view the taxpayer as a limitless resource to fund any political project they might choose to pursue. This is unrealistic, and it is also disrespectful of the fiduciary duty we have to the taxpayer. President Kennedy understood this and led our nation accordingly.
I take the same approach. That is what I mean when I say that I am a Kennedy Democrat.
Gemma: You've also said, "we need a far more efficient and effective way of vetting potential immigrants and providing them a path toward citizenship," and that, "we can secure our borders without abandoning the values upon which our nation was built." What are your views on illegal immigration?
De La Fuente: First, I dislike the term "illegal." While I accept the fact that there are laws in place, the term "illegal" suggests an element of criminal intent that is not at the root of most immigrants' decisions to come to the this country. The vast majority of these people are simply trying to secure a better future for themselves and for their families. While they may be entering the United States in a way that conflicts with our existing laws, they aren't entering our country to be disruptive, and they may not even understand what our laws require.
I think we need to start from a different place. Rather than viewing immigrants as potential liabilities, we need to begin to view them as assets. If we did that, the necessary changes to our archaic immigration laws could begin to be intelligently discussed, and we could make progress toward the comprehensive immigration reform that almost everyone agrees needs to happen.
Today, we vilify immigrants on a generic basis. We also selectively enforce the laws that are on the books, which allows us to ignore how incomprehensively out-of-date those laws are.
Our approach is almost anti-American when you compare it to the values that have always defined our country. We need to de-politicize the issue and work toward effective and comprehensive immigration reform.