The Animal Movement Needs To Adopt the Strategies of the Pro-life Movement

pro-life

The animal movement is politically impotent. The 2016 election cycle demonstrated just how insignificant we are. There is little leadership, no unity, and no defined purpose to most voters who care about animals.

Animal activists are easily manipulated and are routinely ignored.

They had no impact on the presidential race, as their voices were a cacophony of contradictory messages.

Many followed the lead of Mark Markarian of the Humane Society Legislative Fund and voted for Hillary. Others voted for Trump or Jill Stein. A few voted for Clifton Roberts of the Humane Party.

One thing is abundantly clear. Animal activists were not a decisive factor in the presidential race, and will have little, if any, influence in Trump’s administration.

Having little influence is the political norm for the animal movement.

In 2012, I attempted to quantify how animal activists vote by party.
I conducted both email and online polls of several hundred people who identified themselves as animal activists. They split 55% Democrat and 45% Republican. If that is indicative of the movement as a whole, it means the movement has only one tenth the political influence of its numbers.

The Democrats cancel out the Republicans and produce a net vote of 10% of our number. That percentage is apparently further fractured by third party voters.

A ridiculous waste of our voting power. We squander our potential influence in every election cycle. For every contested office.

In very closely contested races, the animal movement vote could determine the outcomes were we all to vote as a bloc.

The model we should be emulating is the so called “Pro-life” movement. Focusing on the tactics and strategies they employ would serve the animal movement, and the animals, much better than the haphazard, directionless, and ineffective approach we have followed for decades.

The Pro-life movement essentially consists of single-issue voters, those opposed to abortion. They support candidates who oppose abortion and punish candidates who support choice. All other issues and considerations are secondary.

The effect of their strategy has been to drive the Republican party to the right. It has caused abortion to be an issue in almost every campaign. It has made the issue part of the national dialogue.

Animal rights and animal protection are never addressed by national candidates. Animal issues are footnotes to campaigns, raised only to pander to activists or to raise money from them.

We now have a president-elect and a vice-president elect who are unabashedly Pro-life. We have an incoming House which will be supportive of Pro-life legislation, and an incoming Senate which will overwhelmingly support Pro-life judicial nominees.

All of that political power and influence is the result of a well organized and dedicated single-issue strategy that Pro-life organizers perfected over the past 40 years.

Had the animal movement been doing the same, animal protection would be a national issue, the movement would have grown exponentially, and the Democratic party would have animal activists as a core constituency with actual influence. Animal protection legislation would be the norm, animal concerns would be as ubiquitous as are environmental concerns. Calls to end vivisection and defund the National Institutes of Health would be as mainstream as are calls to defund Planned Parenthood.

Animal activists must embrace single-issue voting as an article of faith. We must be willing to ignore every other issue, to convince friend and foe alike that animal protection will be our litmus test for any candidate for any office.

Armory Notes:

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.

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7 thoughts on “The Animal Movement Needs To Adopt the Strategies of the Pro-life Movement

  1. Have you ever volunteered your time to an animal rights protest only to find out that your fellow protesters were meat eaters? I have. Uniting with hypocrites is a tough sell. Pro-Lifers unite well because they don’t mind hypocrisy at all (like, “pro-life” shouldn’t mean “pro-human-life-only” or “pro-life-of-misery,” but they don’t mind it at all.)

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  2. Absolutely correct. But judging from how hard it is to get any significant humane laws passed, both politicians and voters are currently speciesists.

    I’m wondering if animal activists can follow the pro-choice example, considering the differences between their movement and ours.

    The pro-life movement consists largely of conservative Christians whose main moral issue is preserving ALL human life, which according to them runs from conception to death. Many of the members are regular church goers and attend Bible studies, as well. Thus, they are constantly reinforced in their beliefs by being with others of like mind.

    When compared to the anti-abortion groups, many animal activists seem to lack both their passion and their long-term commitment. The animal movement is also more diverse and fractured. Some of us believe in the value of ALL lives and assert that veganism and nonviolence to every sentient creature are moral imperatives. Others who call themselves animal activists have much narrower interests, such as pet animal welfare, but consider that human lives and animal lives are inherently different and that human lives must always be given precedence.

    Those differences are mirrored in the multitudes of animal-oriented organizations, from single-issue groups such as the AAVS to the large HSUS (animal welfare) and PETA (animal rights). The groups are often in competition for members and donations, and fear they will not attract support of the general public if they appear “radical,” i.e., vegan. They are reluctant to form alliances with the so-called extreme groups that people disapprove of. It is hard to expect inclusive leadership or a united front from them.

    I believe the group who offers the best goals for activists is PETA, with its inclusivity of all creatures and its animal rights philosophy. Following its leadership, even if imperfect, could result in the most good for the most animals. Unfortunately, PETA is probably the group most hated by the general public. The majority of the population do not approve of its promotion of veganism, its value on animal lives, and its abandonment of speciesism. But the majority will not be voting strictly pro-animal anyway.

    So, we have a good model of committed single-issue activism in the pro-life movement but have to figure out if we can become unified, achieve common purpose, and develop our own leadership. We also have to find a way to move beyond human self-interest on the campaign trail and in the voting booth. Can we do that? Ever?

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    • There is little doubt that PeTA has focused attention on animal issues and inspired tens of thousands of activists, but it is inaccurate to label the organization as an animal rights group. PeTA is an anti-animal suffering organization.
      Their focus is on alleviating suffering. To that end, Ingrid Newkirk, the group’s founder and leader, supports euthanizing animals which might be at risk of suffering. PeTA kills animals in its shelters. They support breed specific legislation aimed at exterminating pit bulls, they oppose TNR (trap-neuter-release) of feral cats.

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  3. Couldn’t agree with you more! Although they are mostly a bunch of crackpots more concerned about the “life” of some blob of protoplasmic goo than they are with the real lives of animals and disadvantaged people, one certainly has to admire how politically effective they have been. And they don’t audibly denounce those individuals who are willing to employ more direct action tactics against abortion providers. Animal rights advocates should heed the lessons.

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  4. Very good point and so true, Roland. I am whole-heartedly willing to make animal welfare my single-issue vote determination. That has been my intent all along. I too hope that we (animal activists) can one-day unite and make our votes count. That will be the day when it will be easier to choose a candidate…the one who publicly addresses animal issues rather then hiding a tiny footnote on the issue, if at all. It’s saddening that the choice we make today has to be based on the one that will cause the least harm to most animals, because there’s currently no candidate who will help most animals. We need great leaders for all of us to unite.

    >

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