Okay, I know it’s April, and no one is thinking about elections, but I am inspired to start thinking about strategies for the fall by our friend and long-time animal advocate Kim Stallwood, aka the Grumpy Vegan, who recently alerted us to the excellent use he is (temporarily) making of his blog. There are elections coming up in Britain, where Kim lives, and, since their election season is only a month long (huh?), there is no time to waste in mobilizing voters for the animals. Thus, he is devoting his personal blog to almost-daily posts on things voters should know before they go to the polls.
This is a great project that anyone can do in their community, their state, whatever. Of course, many of us do not live in places as progressive as Britain, where all the parties have platforms on animal issues. But that needn’t stop you from gathering information about who is running and letting folks know what you have found out. If they are incumbents, just find out how they voted in the past on some crucial animal bills in your district. Then get that out. If they are running for the first time, or you just want to find out more than their voting record can tell you — just call them up. It is amazing how easy it can be to get in touch with someone who is running for office. And if they won’t give you information, and commitments, that’s certainly something to blog about as well.
Of course, some lucky communities have organizations that are doing this kind of work –like NYC, where voters can avail themselves of the New York League of Humane Voters’ scorecards and candidate forums (check out our podcast interview with the League’s president John Phillips). But, you certainly don’t have to be part of an organization to gather information about candidates. In fact, most not-for-profit organizations are not permitted to endorse candidates for office, so individuals who do this kind of work could be filling an enormous void. And don’t forget that this is not just for the big elections. Local officials can have an enormous influence on animal protection issues. Does your school board candidate support humane education? Is your City Council representative trying to put in a breed ban? How do they feel about the circus coming to town?