Politics, Politics, Politics

Politics, Politics, Politics

Posted on 8 Oct 2012

By: Marilyn Ramos

With the Presidential campaigns in full swing, I often think, “Which party is more animal friendly?”  Which party regularly votes for the betterment of animals’ lives? The answer may be obvious but I don’t think it is necessarily a simple answer.

I recall attending an animal rights conference in July 2004. During one of the plenary sessions, the speaker suggested voting for so and so, a conservative anti-gay Republican who had a pretty decent track record (I wish I could remember his name) when it came to animals. I was a bit flabbergasted that this speaker would make such a suggestion. When I challenged him he responded with “So what?!”  He argued that we should be voting the animals’ interests not our own. Fortunately, the race we were discussing was not in California where I’m a registered voter so I didn’t face this dilemma.

Studies have shown that Democratic voters are generally 14 to 19 percentage points more likely than Republican voters to take a pro-animal rights position. The majority of animal rights activists and vegans I know (whether personally or just through our movement) lean to the left. The irony, however, is that in decades past both Republicans and Democrats were both fighters for civil rights. It has only been recently that the rights movement (women’s rights, gay rights, voting rights, etc.) seems to be buoyed by more Democratic leaning voters and Democratic voting Congressmen and women. So does it stand to reason that it will be Democrats and liberals who will also be in the forefront of animal rights? I believe so due to the federal congressional voting record of Republicans and Democrats but I truly hope that this can be changed. It needs to be changed. The animals need this to change.

 There is an animal rights organization that publishes an annual legislative scorecard scoring our federal representatives. I did a review and found the following numbers for those Congressmen and women who scored 50 and over:

In the Senate:      31 Democrats     4 Republicans     1 Independent

(a special shout out goes to Republican Senator Collins, Independent Senator Sanders and Democratic Senators Blumenthal, Kerry, Menendez and Reed for scoring 100 or 100+)

In the House:      148 Democrats   19 Republicans

(a special shout out goes to 57 Democratic representatives for scoring 100 or 100+. No Republican scored 100)

The lopsided numbers in the House are particularly troublesome. We need to do a better job of outreach to Congress but in particular conservative right-leaning representatives. I fear that the “animal rights” argument doesn’t seem to make a difference with a certain segment of conservatives but perhaps a more forceful argument based on the environment and health is how we can reach these people.

I also wish that more Republicans and conservatives in the animal rights movement would “come out of the closet” and make themselves known. I know it may not be an easy thing to do especially when it seems that 90% of the movement is liberal. However, I believe the conservatives in our movement have a duty and have a unique opportunity to do outreach that the rest of us may not be able to do.

I know that these things are not black and white and that many of you (like me) might have a dilemma voting for someone who is pro animals but might be against another position that is important to you. I guess we need to balance our needs with the animals’ needs and we need to do our homework on these politicians to determine how entrenched they are in all of their positions. Are they flexible? Are you flexible?

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