Politics and veganism have a complicated relationship, to say the least. While many vegans utilize political channels—working within the existing system in an effort to affect change, whether by creating and signing petitions, lobbying government officials, proposing changes to legislation, or even running for office themselves, for many others, the inadequacies, injustices, and special-interest-driven corruption of our government have resulted in a complete lack of faith in any substantial change happening through political channels.
But this election cycle brings an approach we’ve not seen before: vegan presidential and vice-presidential candidates whose platform explicitly includes the eradication of exploitation through the liberation and legal protection of all animals.
I’ve long intended to produce a “Veganism and Politics” series, and with Election Day closing in, it seemed that now was an ideal time to start.
While one of the videos in this series will focus on vegan and vegan-friendly political parties around the world, today we’ll focus on a relatively new and decidedly unique one here in the United States: The Humane Party
Now if you’re familiar with my channel, you’ll know that I strive to provide free educational content backed by solid research. Coming from an academic and educational perspective, I always lay out the facts on both sides, as they are, for your consideration and evaluation.
This is not about pandering, equivocating, nor excusing—it’s about attempting to provide what every person deserves: free access to grounded information, as unbiased as possible. In the case of interviews, I strive to allow my guests to convey their own experience and position.
As I’ve stated in many of my videos, vegans come from all walks of life—with views that span the entire political spectrum, conservative and liberal alike. And while the Green Party has long-attracted sustainably-minded vegans and non-vegans alike, no formal political platform has ever proposed the full elimination of human and non-human exploitation through legal means.
Such an endeavor is faced with a great deal of obstacles, which is why I reached out to the Humane Party’s first ever presidential candidate Clifton Roberts for comment, and he was kind enough to offer an interview on the matter.
Before we hear from Clifton, let’s take a very brief overview of the Humane Party platform. The party’s 2016-2017 platform consists of 15 resolutions, including supporting proposed acts and constitutional amendments. You can find links to the full text and more information on the blog post linked in the description below.
While we’re going to focus today on the non-human animal abolition and personhood legislation of the Humane Party, this is not the full scope of the platform. It includes, among other things, addressing budgetary concerns; replacing the electoral college with democratic election; reforming the criminal justice system; modernizing intellectual property and freedom-of-information laws; implementing humane education; defending the nation’s natural resources and inhabitants; ending non-emergency use of toxic, hazardous, and economically untenable fuels and energy production methods; ensuring equality under federal, state, and territorial law, such equality including but not limited to sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, and marriage equality; allowing the right to die; and recognizing through passing of the Genocide Recognition and Reparations Act, the European invasion of the land masses now under U.S. jurisdiction as comprising a series of unprovoked acts of war and genocide; and the transatlantic human slave trade and the institution of human slavery itself also comprising a series of unprovoked acts of war and genocide.
The proposed legislations we’ll be focusing on are the APE and Abolition Amendments. The American Primate Emancipation Amendment, or “APE”, abolishes slavery with respect to all primates in the United States, and is modeled after the 13th amendment abolishing human slavery.
The Party’s stated strategy for separating apes from all other animals is to “break…for the first time in U.S. history, the species barrier to legal standing (often called “rights” or ‘personhood.’)”
Following the APE Amendment would be the far more all-encompassing Abolition Amendment, which “Upon ratification…will abolish slavery with respect to all animals, thereby putting an immediate end to the meat, dairy, egg, and other exploitation- and killing-based industries.”
The fifth draft of this amendment is open for comments, criticisms, and editorial suggestions from the public through November 4, 2016.
Given the formidable resources and influence of the animal products industry, and the uphill battle so long fought by animal liberation activists, I sat down with the Humane Party’s Clifton Roberts, to ask some tough question about his presidential vision.
I think it’s reasonable to say that your and the Humane Party’s stance on the abolishment of exploitation of all beings is probably the most controversial and from an outside perspective, unrealistic aspect of the platform. So what concrete steps are you taking now or would you take as a president to actually make this happen?
Clifton: I think for me right now the first thing I think about is the two-pronged approach. One, making sure that people understand that this is not a focus on food, this is a focus on lives. More so than ever when we try to change the habits of people in this country, we are changing – we’re asking them to change culture, we’re asking them to change tradition, and their habit.
My mathematical equation for compassion, if you haven’t heard, is compassion = instinct minus habit, minus tradition, minus culture. So we’re asking them to do something. And that’s a lot of people to be asking. Where we have a very unique opportunity is what has not been working and trying to change the hearts and minds of that many people is to change the laws.
To actually make that happen, this is all we need: We need to win 51 seats in the Senate, 218 seats in the House of Representatives, and one seat in the White House to have a majority in the Executive branch and in the Congressional branch.
Now I really want to put that into perspective.There are by all accounts 350 million people in the United States right now. All it will take for us to be able to fight for amendments like the Abolition Amendment or the Democracy for America Amendment or the Equal Rights Amendment II is a majority in Senate, a majority in the House of Representative, and a president that is, that lives their lives – his or her lives according to humane values.
So when you think about it, that is absolutely doable. That’s what we’re hoping that this campaign also does is by 2020 I’m hoping that I have to have a Primary for the Humane Party. We’re hoping to have that type of competition by then, but then if we inspire people to run for office.
You've said you’re not actively taking contributions nor have any corporate or special interest ties. But the vast majority of people in the government, just like the vast majority of people in the world, are not vegan and politics kind of goes hand in hand with lobbying in our country at least at this moment—I mean we even are in a country where we have something like the AETA which just makes it possible to almost make any activist a terrorist by law.
So with the incredible strength of the animal products industry and these other special interests that have accomplished feats we wouldn’t really think were possible, how do you see, I guess, getting past the checks and balances of the government as it is? Securing these different positions and all these things can sometimes take a lot of time, so would the legislation even be implemented before the next person would come into office as the President?
Clifton: You know that’s an honest challenge. I really believe that. I’m not gonna try dance around that. I actually agree with you. That is an honest challenge. But i think the way we can optimize that risk, and when I say optimize I don’t wanna say minimize but I really want to optimize that risk, is we need to bombard our congressional seats and the choices of presidential candidates.
That is key because until now we haven’t had that discussion about veganism and politics. It isn’t until the Humane Party came along and we’re starting to say “Hey, did you know there’s a vegan presidential candidate?” This year our goal was to insert ourselves into the national dialogue. I’m gonna be prepared to run again in 2020 and I’m also gonna run for senate upcoming here.
Science is what? Repeating a process over and over again until it’s statistically valid. Right? So if we know that we live in a country that the citizens who are elected by the rest of the citizens to represent their interests have the most power and are able to introduce new legislation into congress for debate and then passed why are we ignoring that?
What do you think about the perspective: “Are we trying to fix a broken system within a broken system when maybe the entire system needs to be reevaluated or changed?”
You have some people saying, “Well we can’t fix these things from within the system of politics, which in and of itself is so inherently corrupt or nonfunctional or based on lobbying.” Do you think there is a level of almost having to play a game that you disagree with within your own values in order to even succeed enough to make that difference?
Clifton: Yeah well we’ve seen Donald Trump destroy that notion now. Do we have to play the game? I’m learning—why don't you ask me that in a few years because I’m a new… I wanna be honest with you and your audience. I’m a newcomer to this game and so I still don't know how it's played yet.
From all accounts from my perspective we’ve been nominated as a first time ever Humane Party candidate, Breeze Harper and I, and I can truly say Emily that the response that we’ve received and the feedback that we’ve received and the inputs that we’ve received, the letters that we’ve received have been so positive that I can’t tell you that it is not successful. I think we have embarked on a journey and we’re very successful at what it is that we wanted to do this election cycle. So playing the game ask me that in a little bit and I promise I'll have a better answer for you.
With the number of people who are involved in animal agriculture, from either slaughterhouse workers or even people who own their own small slaughterhouses,farmers, et cetera, do you think there will be any part of your presidency or the platform that will offer some form of transitional assistance for those working within the animal products industry?
Clifton: Absolutely, absolutely as a matter of fact one of the things we've worked on for the past year and a half since I’ve been involved with the Humane Party is a team dedicated to developing the solutions for transition and at least writing those solutions up. So we have a team at Humane Party of volunteers, by the way, that have actually come in with educational backgrounds, attorneys, lawyers, agricultural professionals, PHDs in science, engineering and technology that have come in and they helping us with those.
I think some people might not realize—especially when people bring up the argument that vegan food is so expensive is like the level of government subsidies that go into animal products to create this kind of false low pricing. So one thing I was wondering was do you have a plan for where those subsidies would be rerouted and, or would there be any kind of subsidizing of vegan or plant based products?
Clifton: Absolutely. 100% subsidies of vegan and plant based products. Well I mean no hesitation whatsoever eliminating and drastically reducing – fighting our hearts out to eliminate the subsidies that are going to the dairy and the murder industries, just eliminating those altogether. You know we have that… Our platform includes modernizing intellectual property and freedom of information laws. And part of that is protecting people who expose these practices. Reversing the Animal Enterprise “Terror” Act—that's just ridiculous…
You have to think, when you develop an organization, right and you have organizations like USDA or Department of Agriculture, you know whatever and you have people that are from the industries that are working in those, in government, to help pass any of these type of acts, that's why again it goes back to those 51 people. We have to infiltrate and we really have to leverage that, so yes absolutely 100% eliminating subsidies to dairy, murder industry, to meat industry and subsidizing farmers. But definitely providing and redirecting those subsidies to people who are helping this planet be more sustainable.
I hope you enjoyed hearing directly from Clifton. Again, this is a very cursory look into these issues and the Humane Party as a whole. I do plan on digging deeper into the nuances of non-human abolition legality and viability in a future video in this series. I’ve included links below to a two-part video series about voting vegan and an hour-long interview series with Clifton by The Onion Knight Show, as well as information on how to write-in a candidate who’s not on your ballot, if that’s something you’re wanting help with.
Please note: Every state varies in their write-in process. Nine (9) states do not allow write-ins at all and only seven (7) allow anyone to be written in. (See below for more details).
The Humane Party has not yet clearly stated which states Roberts & Harper have properly registered in, so at this point only those seven (7) are certain to count for a write-in vote. I will update this note if I find more information—please feel free to let me know if you have more details on this matter.
UPDATE: I received clarification from the Humane Party. Clifton Roberts has official write-in status in the following states: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. California has also been confirmed by the Humane Party, but the official approved list will be posted October 28, 2016. His status is pending in Minnesota. The remaining 31 states allowing write-ins will not officially count a write-in vote for Clifton. I will be releasing a video update about this tomorrow (Oct 28).
I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything we’ve covered today. What do you think of utilizing the legislative system to achieve total animal liberation? If you’re vegan, do you see your veganism as inherently political? If you’re non-vegan, what do you think about the granting of personhood to beings traditionally labelled as “food animals?” Let me know in the comments.
If you liked this video, do give it a thumbs up and share it around to inform, and subscribe for more vegan content every week. To help support Bite Size Vegan’s educational efforts, please see the support page or join us in The Nugget Army.
Now go live vegan, let your voice be heard, and I’ll see you soon.
▶︎➤FEATURED VIDEOS & RESOURCES:
▶︎➤MORE ON CLIFTON & THE HUMANE PARTY
▶︎➤ALL ABOUT WRITE-INS
➣ How to Write-In Your Vote
Please Note: Every state varies in their process. Nine states do not allow write-ins at all and only seven allow anyone to be written in. The nine states that do not allow write-ins are: Arkansas, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota. The seven states with no filing requirements for candidates are: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. So residents of those states will able to write in any name of their choosing.
UPDATE: I received clarification from the Humane Party as to Clifton Roberts' status. He has official write-in status in the following states: Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont. California has also been confirmed by the Humane Party, but the official approved list will be posted October 28, 2016. His status is pending in Minnesota. The remaining 31 states allowing write-ins will not officially count a write-in vote for Clifton. I will be releasing a video update about this tomorrow (Oct 28).
CITATIONS: [bibliography available below citations]
 The Humane Party, “‘World Vegan Day’ News: Clifton Roberts Nominated as the Humane Party’s First Candidate for President of the United States of America,” The Humane Herald, November 3, 2015, https://humaneherald.wordpress.com/2015/11/03/world-vegan-day-news-clifton-roberts-nominated-as-the-humane-partys-first-candidate-for-president-of-the-united-states-of-america/.
 “Breeze Harper Nominated For Vice President,” CliftonRoberts.org, accessed October 26, 2016, http://www.cliftonroberts.org/.
 The Humane Party, “Humane Party Platform – 2016-2017,” accessed October 25, 2016, https://humanepartyusa.wordpress.com/platform/.
 The Humane Party, “What Is the Abolition Amendment?,” Humane Party FAQ, December 25, 2015, https://humanefaq.wordpress.com/2015/12/25/what-is-the-abolition-amendment/.
 The Humane Party, “What Is the APE Amendment?,” Humane Party FAQ, December 8, 2015, https://humanefaq.wordpress.com/2015/12/08/what-is-the-ape-amendment/.
 The Humane Party, “About The Humane Party,” July 12, 2016, https://humanepartyusa.wordpress.com/about/.
 The Humane Party, “Humane Party Platform – 2016-2017.”
 The Humane Party, “What Is the APE Amendment?”
 The Humane Party, “Why Did the Humane Party Break the Abolition Process into Two Separate Constitutional Amendments?,” Humane Party FAQ, December 10, 2015, https://humanefaq.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/why-did-the-humane-party-break-the-abolition-process-into-two-separate-constitutional-amendments/.
 The Humane Party, “What Is the Abolition Amendment?”
 The Humane Party, “Fifth Draft of Abolition Amendment Open For Comment,” October 21, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/humaneparty/photos/a.150538728301390.22164.124267947595135/1258879314133987/?type=3&theater.
 Robert Schroeder, “How to Write in Your Choice for President,” MarketWatch, October 19, 2016, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-write-in-your-choice-for-president-2016-10-19.
 “Ballot Access for Presidential Candidates – Write-Ins,” Ballotpedia: The Encyclopedia of American Politics, accessed October 26, 2016, https://ballotpedia.org/Ballot_access_for_presidential_candidates#Requirements_for_write-in_candidates.