Truth is, I've become appalled with "politics as usual" ever since becoming a vegan and experiencing a heightened awareness of animal rights. Partisan politics has gotten to be so damned ugly. And it's ugly on both sides of the spectrum (although most of the ugliness, at this particular moment in history, is coming from the extreme Right).
Worse yet, neither camp - Democrats or Republicans - seem to be too terribly interested in the well being of animals. It's as if animals are not even on their radar.
Often, the Democrats seem to be more natural kindred spirits than Republicans. You're more likely, I'm sure, to find higher numbers of vegans among Democrats. Most animal rights activists, if they are political, are probably Democrats or somewhere on the left side of the spectrum.
But whenever I turn on the television and listen to the pundits and political talking heads discussing the latest happenings in the hallowed halls of power, I'm struck by the absolute absence - the total and complete absence - of animals on anybody's agenda, Democrat or Republican. Whether commentators are on the Left or Right, they're united by their rigid human-centric worldview.
Animal rights activists are often criticized for not being sufficiently pro-human rights. I've addressed this issue recently on this Blog (see here). For years, foes of the animal rights movement have accused us of not being concerned about human rights. That nonsensical claim has been discredited over and over again by thoughtful animal rights advocates. Maybe it's time for us to more aggressively turn the argument around and point out that the human-centric pundits don't care about animal rights. If they truly give a damn, they'd better start to show some genuine concern for animals.
I'm not just talking about the United States, either. The same thing needs to happen in democracies around the world including here in Canada. I often focus on the United States because I teach American History, I used to live in the United States (indeed, I've actually lived most of my life there), and I think that trends that occur in the U.S. have a way of rippling around the world because the country has so much influence. But these lessons are applicable elsewhere, including right here in Canada.
We get so immersed in our own subculture that it's easy to miss the fact that we have a lot of work to do. Getting animals on the national political radar is an uphill struggle. Brave animal rights activists have made great accomplishments and now the movement for the liberation of animals is taken very seriously in communities across North America. There is still a lot of work to do to get animals on the national agenda, but make no mistake: They are worth it. The key is to keep doing what we're doing, so that our subculture continues to expand, wins new converts and begins to exert real influence on the mainstream.