The story of “America divided” has played out in the media and political news for decades. Isn’t it time to find areas of agreement and common evolution on moral and political attitudes? One striking trend line is with regard to animal rights at the ballot box. Whether it’s Florida or California, Massachusetts or Missouri, it turns out that animal rights have won 70 percent of the time at the ballot box over the past three decades. That’s a political supermajority.
The potential for building a wider moral consensus in a divided country from an animal rights perspective is worth exploring. The Independent Media Institute’s Earth | Food | Life project gives readers a path to consider the lives of the animals who are raised for our food or who share our environments, as you’ll see in IMI’s recent stories below.
It’s important to keep in mind these and other moral issues that unite this country under the surface, even as the divisions and challenges facing society continue to build. Check out the recent work our journalists have been up to:
During the 2022 midterm election year, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested. As Americans gear up to vote Tuesday, November 8, Steven Rosenfeld, Voting Booth’s editor, chief correspondent, and senior writing fellow, reliably provides the play-by-play.
In his recent reporting, he notes that while the far right gains ground in the East, out West among the five states that held their 2022 primary elections on May 17, a string of GOP candidates for office who deny the 2020 presidential election results and embrace various conspiracies were rejected by Republicans who voted for more mainstream conservatives. And yet, Pennsylvania state legislator Douglas Mastriano, an election denier and white nationalist, won the gubernatorial primary with votes from less than 7 percent of the 9 million registered voters in Pennsylvania.
Unlike many Republican candidates who are mimicking Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, or who initially rejected Trump’s claims but are now flirting with conspiracy theorists, Maricopa County’s top elected Republicans called out Arizona’s attorney general, Republican Mark Brnovich, for lying about the 2020 election. Meanwhile, Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who in November 2020 refused Donald Trump’s demand to “find” the votes for the ex-president to win the state and defended the accuracy of Georgia’s results and recounts, is “being bent to the will” of 2020 election deniers as his May 24 primary approached, civil rights advocates say. Rosenfeld’s reporting remains an independent account of the truth that is essential to restoring shared public faith in democracy.
Reproductive health care, global warming, and student loan debt are among the numerous social justice issues that are at stake. New York Times bestselling author and Economy for All writing fellow Thom Hartmann dissects Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s Dobbs v. Jackson draft opinion, the abortion case that could reverse Roe, concluding that at its heart, it’s just insidious religious doctrine. The abortion battle is not just about religion, however; Hartmann also argues that the abortion firestorm is also a dangerous racist panic about the end of white supremacy in America.
Student debt, like medical debt or the inability to pay increasing rents, is just another feature of a capitalist, market-driven system designed to ensure the health of Wall Street over the wellness of people. And those financial stresses affect people of color the most, writes Economy for All chief correspondent and writing fellow Sonali Kolhatkar in “Why Canceling Student Debt Is a Matter of Racial Justice.” “It’s time to end this collective financial burden, and the president can do so with the stroke of a pen,” she writes.
Climate change too is the result of a deadly calculus: human lives are worth risking and even losing over the profits of global corporations. It’s a no-brainer for the world to quickly and without delay transition to renewable energy sources, writes Kolhatkar, in light of the World Meteorological Organization’s alarming conclusion about how close we are to reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and facing the most dangerous impacts of climate change. Instead, President Biden has fallen woefully short on his campaign promises to address the climate crisis and failed to stand up to corporate interests. But while the market-driven economy favors environmental doom, public opinion is on the side of science.
Can we abandon pollutive fossil fuels and avoid an energy crisis? It’s a question asked by Earth | Food | Life contributor Richard Heinberg, senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival. “When it comes to maintaining energy flows, there is a closing window to avert both climate catastrophe and economic peril,” he writes. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the West’s response of imposing sanctions on Russia are forcing a reckoning, and yet we treat these fuels as though they were an inexhaustible birthright; but they are, of course, finite and depleting substances. Energy is often an area where a narrative of division prevails, and yet what’s essential for the environment is inextricably linked to what’s good for the energy industry in the long run.
Meanwhile, monkeys infected with transmissible diseases are being trucked across the United States, writes EFL contributor Lisa Jones-Engel, a primate scientist and Fulbright scholar who has conducted academic research on the consequences of infectious diseases moving between human and macaque populations. Highly emotional and intelligent, macaques are seed dispersers, making them a keystone species in the environment. They are being rounded up from forests and urban areas and shipped thousands of miles across the globe, ostensibly to provide us with lifesaving treatments and vaccines. Despite macaques’ vast immunological and biological differences from humans, the cruel and unethical extraction of macaques from Asia for use in biomedical research is a multibillion-dollar industry that is pushing them over the edge.
Perhaps to truly learn about nature, life, and love, we need to build better relationships with our nonhuman family. In an excerpt from Sy Montgomery’s book The Hawk’s Way produced for the web by EFL and Atria Books, the naturalist and bestselling author describes the crucial role and sharpness of the vision of birds based on their eye size in proportion to their bodies. And because of our differing brain circuitry, birds capture at a glance what it might take us many seconds to apprehend. For birds, seeing is being. “Too often humans see through our brains, not through our eyes,” writes Montgomery. “This is such a common human failing that we joke about the absent-minded professor or the artist so focused on an imagined canvas that they walk into a tree.”
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Thanks from Jan Ritch-Frel and the rest of the IMI team.