Animal Rights and Politics
Animals Count is the name of a new political party in the UK, launched to "protect animal rights." (I didn’t know they had any rights.) They won’t be using violent tactics, they want a total ban on hunting, and they have called for an end to intensive farming systems. They are linked to a Dutch party that became the first animal rights party to win seats in a European parliament. So far so good.
But here’s my Gray Matter: Would that be a good idea in the US?
I don’t think so because building a party around one issue says, right out of the gate, that you have a very narrow focus in what you will be addressing, and I think political parties in the US should all address the same issues, and simply have differing perspectives on how to deal with them. The set of common issues creates a sort of level playing field.
With that said, our current party system doesn’t deal with animals at all. They are simply resources to be managed by governments. No one but Dennis Kucinich talks regularly about animals (beyond cats, dogs, and horses), and he does so within the traditional framework of the Democratic Party, which makes no mention of animals.
Once you make a special party for Animal People, you set them even more apart from the rest of society, and I think that’s a terrible idea because it reinforces the idea of difference and freakishness (and it’s not that we mind that), which opens up the floodgates for a new kind of -ism to creep in to our already -ism-packed culture.
I think we need to get the parties that currently exist to all address nonhuman animal issues: to articulate their stance, even if it’s that animals are solely viewed as resources to in some way be consumed by us (and definitely managed by us). Maybe if they all put some time into expressing their perspective, the simple fact that they’re attending to the issue and voicing their opinions may lead to debate and the changing of those opinions.
We’ll never know what we’re capable of doing with this crucial matter if we don’t get the conversation out of the animal rights community and into the rest of the community.