Clinton Says the Trumps Have Killed A Lot of Animals — They Haven’t Killed Nearly as Many as Her Donors
by Araceli Rodriguez
Cross-posted on http://medium.com/@aracelirodriguez/
Last Wednesday afternoon I interrupted a Hillary Clinton rally in Des Moines, Iowa. One activist climbed over the barricade to press the candidate to respond to our pleas as I helped a friend unfurl a banner reading “Get Big Ag Out of Politics.” As the Secret Service wrestled the barricade jumper to the ground, I thought of the comment Clinton made last week in response to other activists. Last Friday, in response to a similar interruption by animal rights protesters of a rally in Las Vegas, Clinton lobbed a taunt squarely at her opponent: “Trump and his kids have killed a lot of animals,” she said, referring to the Trump family’s well-known pastime of hunting large animals. When I disrupted her rally Wednesday, I wanted to make one thing clear: however many animals Trump and his kids have killed, that number is minuscule next to the number of animals killed for food each year by companies like Costco, owned by a notable Clinton fundraiser — and the deaths of animals in agriculture are far less humane.
Clinton’s response to protesters associated with the animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere has come as if she were already primed and briefed on a controversy from last summer. In the heat of the controversy over the killing of Cecil the lion by Minneapolis dentist Walter Palmer, photos aired of Trump’s sons hunting other large wild animals, including a leopard, an elephant, and a waterbuck. Trump defended his sons by throwing red meat to Republican primary voters, touting his belief in the 2nd Amendment. Clinton, in contrast has supported protections for large animals like elephants. Confronted with animal rights protesters last Thursday afternoon, Clinton immediately recalled the Cecil controversy and used the opportunity to make a pointed jab at Trump — the first time in a presidential election that a candidate has condemned another candidate for killing animals, to my knowledge.
In addition to pulling off a jab against her political rival, Clinton managed to neatly pivot away from an area of moral controversy to one of moral consensus. Across the board, Americans are embracing strikingly strong positions on animal rights. Nearly a third of Americans surveyed last year said that animals should be protected from harm just as strongly as humans. A majority of Americans polled expressed concern with the use of animals for everything from circuses to research to food. Unsurprisingly, then, the vast majority of Americans agree that trophy hunting is wrong.
When it comes to animals raised for food, however, our society is glaringly out of step with our nation’s expressed morals. Our food industry kills 10 billion land animals — most of them chickens, including egg-laying hens — and at least 40 billion aquatic animals a year in the U.S. alone. That’s 30 land animals and hundreds of aquatic animals for each human in the United States. Repeated investigations have found that animals are routinely eaten alive and confined in horrific ways, most recently including an investigation into Costco supplier Hormel’s Farmer John. Disturbingly, a Costco co-founder hosted a $50,000 per person fundraiser for Hillary Clinton back in March. Who would want to discuss that at a political rally?
Even worse, federal agencies spend billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize and promote this practice that is increasingly out of step with our values. The federal government spends nearly $40 billion each year to subsidize meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. Government-appointed agricultural bodies like the American Egg Board work with industry in legally dubious ways to fight back against competition and activists who criticize the industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has allowed industry to run wild with vague and misleading labels that have drawn criticism from Senators Dianne Feinstein and Cory Booker. All the while, animals have no government agency to protect them.
Should Secretary Clinton win the presidential election, she will take the reins of a government that, by subsidizing animal farms, kills far more animals in far more horrific ways than the Trump family could ever dream. She will do so having pocketed large donations made with the support of this industry. Luckily, there are steps Secretary Clinton can take — steps outlined in a policy memo sent to the campaign by one of my fellow activists that would be in line with Secretary Clinton’s professed support for animal rights. Secretary Clinton can support true animal rights, oppose government programs that promote this industry, and take steps to institutionalize animal protection in the federal government.