OUR SLOGAN: Animals Are People Too!
The Party for the Animals USA is a new American political party founded in 2010 in Minnesota. Its formation was inspired by the success of the Dutch Party for the Animals (PvdD). The PvdD was founded specifically to advance the cause of animal welfare and animal rights. Despite only being started in 2006, in the national elections of that year it won two seats of the total of 150 in the Lower House of parliament and one seat in the Senate. (See the article in Wikipedia about this political party). It does not consider itself to be a single issue political party because it is also concerned about wider environmental issues which it recognizes as related to concerns about animal welfare. This party does not seek major political power but sees its function as a “Testimonial Party.” A testimonial political party in effect “flies the flag” of an issue or cause within a legislature. It uses its presence to influence in a wide variety of ways the legislation passed by the major parties. By so doing it achieves its goals by unspectacular but steady progress in small increments. As a practical matter this can be more effective than the efforts of organizations that try to advance their causes outside the legislature.
The Party for the Animals USA, as a political party, aspires to follow the example of the Party for the Animals in The Netherlands by being a Testimonial Political Party within the context of the the American presidential system which is radically different from the Dutch parliamentary system. The Netherlands has both a proportional representation system and a very low barrier to entry into the national legislature. The percentage of the total vote needed to gain a seat in the Dutch House of Representatives is very low (It is 1/150 or 0.67 percent) which makes the Netherlands unique in Europe and made possible the success of this tiny party at the national level. In the general election of June 9, 2010 it retained its previous 1.3% of total vote and thus two seats in parliament plus its one seat in the Senate. Out of 50 States in the US, only Minnesota and New York have ballot qualified third parties that actually have a serious impact on elections by either sharing candidates or splitting votes.
Aside from having the Presidential rather than Parliamentary form of government, just not having proportional representation as occurs in both the US and Great Britain normally results in a monopoly by two large parties. For third parties to aspire to significant power under the American political system is delusion bordering on lunacy. The crowning achievement of the American Green Party was getting George W. Bush elected in 2000 by splitting the liberal vote. By glaring contrast, the German Green Party is a major presence in the parliament and therefore a serious political player. (Germany has proportional representation.) In the Netherlands there is a Green-Left Party which in the June 9, 2010 parliamentary elections went from seven to 10 seats, or 6.6% of the 150 total.
The Party for the Animals USA plans to be a “Virtual Political Party.” It will exist in a cloud in cyberspace from whence it will attempt to influence the real world of politics. Our exclusive focus will be on passing animal friendly legislation at the State level, starting with Minnesota. We encourage Animal Rights/Welfare advocates in other states and countries to copy our methods if they prove successful and collaborate with us to think up newer and better ideas or adopt Minnesota as an experimental project.
OUR PLACE ON THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM:
Most animal welfare and animal rights advocates are left of center politically. The Party for the Animals USA considers itself to be a center-left party. This is how it will over the long term seek to position itself. In the short to intermediate term it may move around on the political spectrum depending on the political climate and what issues it deals with. One must keep in mind that over time, the political center moves to the left or right also. Also political parties evolve over time.
An illustration of this is the Green Party in Germany. There it started out as a small radical left-wing political party but has evolved into a mainstream party that still considers itself a left-wing political party but is now much more pragmatic than ideological and appeals to many centrist voters. A public opinion poll in September 2010 indicated that if an election were held right away, it would be about equal in voter support with the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the major left-wing party. For a period of seven years it was a coalition partner with the ruling Social Democratic Party and was recently considering a future coalition with the conservative Christian Democratic Party. The idea of a coalition was permanently killed when the current Christian Democrat government approved a life extension of nuclear powerplants to which the Green Party was absolutely opposed.
As noted above, most animal welfare advocates are politically left of center. However, in what could be considered an example of "cognitive dissonance" there are independent conservatives and Republicans who are animal lovers and support animal welfare measures. They just don't see any connection between animal welfare and political party affiliation.
Since our primary criterion for supporting or opposing a politician is his/her position on an animal welfare or rights issue, we would support a Republican candidate who was clearly an advocate of animal welfare over a Democratic one who was indifferent to the issue. As a general statement it is safe to say that Republican politicians will not be as committed to animal welfare as Democratic ones.
We are making as our priority issue "Puppy and Kitten Mills." Minnesota is a major state for commercial dog and cat breeders. Animal protection laws are weak or nonexistent in this State in general. There is no state law regulating the breeding of dogs and cats or their sale. Breeders are only subject to a Federal law where it applies to them.
The problem is that there are huge loopholes in the Federal law so that in practice there is no regulation because it is easy to qualify for the many exemptions in the Federal law. The only solution is to pass a State law that strictly regulates the breeding and sale of dogs and cats and has no loopholes.
In 2009 and 2010 the "Puppy and Kitten Mill Bill" was introduced in the Minnesota legislature by animal welfare advocates. In both years the bill was killed in committee. This means that it could not get the majority vote needed for it to leave the committee and come up for a floor vote. In 2010 a companion House bill was also killed in committee. In analyzing the 2010 Senate committee vote it is obvious to a political sophisticate that the vote was a farce because it was fixed in advance. The animal advocates spun their wheels for two years. It is easy to predict that this bill will always die in committee. Committees are where bills are killed, castrated or distorted to the point that their sponsors have difficulty recognizing them. This is an example of where political expertise and lobbying power are more important than good intentions. To be fair though, it is probable that this bill could never be passed under any circumstances for the following reason:
In the November 2010 elections in Missouri, which is the country's largest puppy mill state, a referendum called Proposition B was passed after a very hard and expensive political campaign. It placed commercial dog breeders under state regulation for the first time. Apparently animal rights advocates there were forced to use a referendum because they knew they could never get this law passed in the legislature because of all the political tricks that can be, and are routinely, played in the legislative process. This may be the political reality in Minnesota also.
What You Can Do:
1) When you buy books and DVD's from our Online Bookstore, you will be contributing to support the efforts of the Party for the Animals USA to grow into a political organization that can have an impact on animal welfare and rights legislation in America.
2) Tell others who are concerned about animals and the environment, both online and in person, about our existence and our website.
3) Read the weekly Worldlogs by Marianne Thieme. They are an excellent education on nuts and bolts politics by someone who is actually doing the politics. Although it is in the context of a parliamentary system, the negotiating and maneuvering is the same in any legislature.
4) Make our website your Homepage.