What’s the deal with Republicans and their VPs? Apparently it’s a requirement that you support or participate in the most heinous of hunting practices. Current VP Dick Cheney, when not shooting friends in the face, is a fan of the canned hunt. Meanwhile, John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin, has supported the aerial hunting of wolves and bears. This practice involves chasing the animal by helicopter until the animal is exhausted, and then shooting her point blank.
Aerial hunting was outlawed by the federal government in 1972 in the Federal Airborne Hunting Act, but Alaska has been wiggling through loopholes to allow this sort of thing. Governor Palin “actively opposed a ballot measure campaign seeking to end the aerial hunting of wolves by private hunters and approved a $400,000 state-funded campaign aimed at swaying people’s votes on the issue,” according to the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to read up over at the Defenders’ page about Governor Palin’s record on this and other wildlife issues.
The thing is, I can guarantee that a question about this will never come up in any of the vice presidential debates. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee that no question related to animal use or even animal welfare will come up during any debate or be prominently mentioned by either campaign. Sure, Obama’s got the Animal Rights Advocates for Obama on my.barackobama.com. The group has, after all, raised $12 for Obama’s campaign! Wonder if they did that selling lemonade on the corner.
And, sure, Obama’s been quoted as saying, “I think how we treat our animals reflects how we treat each other, and it’s very important that we have a president who is mindful of the cruelty that is perpetrated on animals.” Which is good. Really. But it’s kind of a blow-off statement, especially considering his seemingly lackluster voting record on animal welfare.
What I’m getting at is a point that a fellow Poplar Spring volunteer made to me the other day at lunch. He told me how, as a vegan and animal rights advocate, he felt completely distanced from either candidate. He said that he had to pretend other issues were more important to him than animal issues for the sole fact that politicians never talk about animals when campaigning. I had to agree. This issue that is so important to us, one that we see tied so closely to the mainstreamed issues of human rights and the environment, is completely ignored during the campaign season. It’s unbelievably frustrating.
I realize it’s likely the candidates ignore the issue because they would alienate much of their base if they were to discuss the rights of animals. So, until the base changes, the issue won’t be raised.
I think all we can do is continue to work our best to advocate on the individual level, making people aware of the issues and getting people to go vegan. We have to tie animal rights and veganism to the rights of the human workers in slaughterhouses and the environmental affects of meat, dairy, and egg production. Once more people are protesting the use of animals in their everyday lives and can see how it’s not just “an animal issue,” then maybe politicians will start talking about the rights of all sentient beings. Maybe then people like Sarah Palin will be questioned about her support of illegal, barbaric hunting practices. And maybe then we can start to make some real progress for the animals.