Friends have asked my opinion of Clifton Roberts’ campaign for president as the candidate of the Humane Party. He has many wonderful, dedicated, and enthusiastic supporters. I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but the animals will not be served by their efforts. The Humane Party will be a footnote to the 2016 elections. Completely irrelevant the day after voting. And all the work, hopes, dreams, and enthusiasm will go up in smoke.
Professionally, I am a political strategist. I have run political campaigns and consulted to politicians for 40 years. The American political process is designed to cripple third party efforts. The only affect of a third party is to throw a monkey wrench into extremely close contests, as Ralph Nader did in Florida in 2000.
The only time a third party actually displaced a major political party was when the Whigs were replaced by the Republicans in 1854, and that was a result of the Whigs being a part of the new Republican coalition.
A much more effective strategy would be to exact conditions from the Republicans for AR support, forcing the Democrats to cover the bet. I don’t think the Humane Party is a reasonable expenditure of money or effort. It may be one day, but there are much more productive things we can do politically than howl at the moon.
Supporting a third party is to be dealt out of the game. The prevailing party and candidate will owe us nothing. An embarrassingly low vote will punctuate our ineffectiveness and unimportance. But if we are part of the winning coalition, the possibility exists that the animals may benefit, even if in some small way.
As a method of educating and recruiting, the third party route is particularly difficult. Unlike major party candidates, the media ignores third party spokespersons and platforms. Any inroads would have to be made one on one at small gatherings, which would primarily be attended by the already converted. Money spent on advertising, staff, offices, materials, faxes and phones would be wasted. The final votes will be embarrassingly low.
The most effective way to actually make a difference for the animals is to get those in power (or who wish to assume power) to agree to do something substantive, in return for our support. For example, we might be able to get an agreement from the Republicans to end Mustang roundups or do away with Wildlife Services (the killing branch of the Department of Agriculture). Once the Democrats get wind of the deal they would likely up the ante. Whichever team wins would be obligated to deliver on some or even most of what they promised. If we are outside the system looking in, we get squat.
Politics has often been described as the “art of the possible.” Zealots, like myself, will never be satisfied with a political solution to anything, as the very nature of politics requires compromise, settling, and accommodation.
Understanding the limitations of politics, and the advantages, is crucial to gauging our involvement in the political process.
Philosophically, I am an animal rights proponent. My objective is to secure rights for all sentient beings. Such a goal is well outside the realm of possibility under our capitalist political oligarchy. Recognizing the limitations of political action, I nonetheless delve into political campaigns where success would mean falling far short of my personal agendas.
Even so, I involve myself because political campaigns afford me the opportunity to recruit radical activists, and because even a limited objective reached might mean saving animals’ lives.
A case in point is the upcoming presidential election. I am supporting Bernie Sanders. He is hardly my ideal candidate, He is not vegan. He supports hunting. He would continue Obama’s outrageous drone program which kills innocent women and children as a matter of course.
But Sanders’ positions on campaign financing would change the political power structure in America. Presently, corporations, special interests, trade organizations, and lobbyists, are able to legally bribe Members of Congress and US Senators through campaign contributions. Were that institution to be replaced by public financing of campaigns, the back of the fascist machine that runs and owns the US government would be broken.
• I am unaware of any other blog with the Armory’s mission of radicalizing the animal movement. I certainly hope I am not alone, and that there are similar sentiments being expressed by comrades unknown to me.
If you know of other blogs dedicated to animal rights and the defeat of capitalism, please comment with a link.
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• Feel free to comment. I encourage open discussion and welcome other opinions. I moderate comments because this blog has been attacked by hunters and right wing trolls. I approve comments that are critical as well as those which agree with me. Comments that I will not tolerate are those that are spam, threatening, disrespectful, or which promote animal abuse and cruelty