In recognition of the Humane Party’s 10th birthday, here’s a brief account of some milestones from the organization’s first decade.
Choosing a name
As described in a previous article, the incubation team originally considered three names for the organization: “Humane Party,” “Vegan Party,” and “Abolition Party.” The “Humane Party” name has proven to be the right choice for a number of reasons. For instance, in order for something to be properly called “humane,” that thing would necessarily have to be vegan or abolitionist, as applicable. The term “humane” itself (when used legitimately) therefore implies the other two names, while also being comprehensive enough to necessitate other ethical positions that do not fit neatly under the term “vegan” or “abolition.”
Embodying principles in the Humane Party Oath
From the get-go, the Humane Party has required all officers, candidates, and board members to be vegan personally and abolitionist politically. But a mechanism was needed to enforce these requirements. The Humane Party Oath was therefore developed in order to reduce these principles to a signed, notarized, uniform, and public document. Like the other oaths, such a writing helps to solemnize an individual’s commitment while also screening out those who are unwilling to make such a commitment. The Oath also serves to make it very clear what the HP’s endorsement guarantees. Meanwhile, this requirement serves a special role for the HP, one that would be unnecessary in any previous organization: the HP serves a constituency that cannot hold humans accountable through the political process or through public censure, cannot donate, and cannot take up arms or mount an organized, collective campaign of self-defense, namely, the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and members of other species who are literal constituents of the HP.
The Humane Party first began registering voters in 2011 at WorldFest (now VegFest) in Los Angeles, California. That day, HP registered 40 voters, drawing voters proportionately away from all four of the other main political parties—Democrat, Republican, Green, and Libertarian. The HP also brought some people into the political process for the first time in their entire lives. For instance, one person—who was in his fifties—told the HP booth team that he had never voted, nor even registered to vote, because he had never been able to find a political party whose values he could, in good conscience, support. Yet, upon learning about the HP, he registered to vote right then and there in the HP booth. Bringing someone into the political process, after a lifetime of that person’s feeling effectively disenfranchised by the lack of worthy parties and candidates, is truly an awe-inspiring experience to which HP booth team members can look forward.
The Humane Party endorsed its first-ever candidate, Andrew Kirschner, in 2011. HP endorsed its first local candidate, Monica Miranda, and its first Presidential candidate, Clifton Roberts, in 2015. This Presidential ticket was joined by the HP’s first Vice Presidential candidate, Breeze Harper, in 2016. The HP endorsed Robert Mason for U.S. House of Representatives and Clifton Roberts for U.S. Senate in 2018, and Robert Mason also gained the co-endorsement of the Green Party. Each of these steps has helped to build the momentum of the HP and of the animal rights movement as a whole by showing that animal rights activists are willing to take a direct approach: to take the reins of power and do the job themselves instead of being limited to lobbying, petitioning, protesting, and otherwise hoping to convince other people to do the right thing.
At time of launch on Earth Day (April 22), 2009, the HP’s positions included pursuit of four Constitutional amendments. The language for three of these four proposed Constitutional amendments has now been published in final form: the Democracy Amendment (2015), Equal Rights Amendment 2 (2015), and Abolition Amendment (2016). Having this language in final form provides a very clear goal around which activists can rally and facilitates advocacy. The language for the Fiscal Responsibility Amendment, which will require a balanced federal budget, has not been finalized, but the exploding national debt and ongoing series of government shutdowns have emphatically demonstrated the need for this amendment.
Economic Transition Team
One of the first and biggest concerns that many people have when introduced to the vegan, cruelty-free, ecosystem-neutral (or ecosystem-positive) economy of the future is the issue of jobs. To address this concern, the HP attempted, shortly after launch in 2009, to create an Economic Transition Team, an internal organ of the HP tasked with undertaking the business, economic, scientific, and technological research and development necessary to enable a nationwide transition to a post-abolition economy. The original effort did not get off the ground, but in 2016, the Economic Transition Team came into being with flying colors. Since that time, the Economic Transition Team has produced a number of informative reports, including one report that became a “top 25” article in 2017, according to Faunalytics.
The Humane Herald
While there are a number of publications related to science and ethics, and at least a handful of publications that espouse animal rights and veganism, almost all of these publications nonetheless legitimize, publicize, and endorse meat-and-dairy parties and their candidates when Election Day comes around. Given this landscape, there wasn’t a publication representing the abolitionist—in the modern sense of the word—perspective until launch of The Humane Herald in early 2011. The Humane Herald has, therefore, served to fill an important gap in the movement, providing a place where the key ethical, scientific, technological, legal, and political issues of our time can be addressed in a manner that is consonant with the principles and perspectives embedded in veganism, ahimsa, abolitionism, and animal rights.
Humane National Committee
A popular quotation holds that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing while expecting a different result.” Regardless of the literal truth of this assertion, it points to a worthwhile insight: reaching a different end may require using different means. This insight is what initiated, in 2010, the project to design the Humane National Committee and the zoocracy system of government. In particular, the team felt that achieving the unprecedented, revolutionary changes to which the organization had committed—such as universal animal emancipation, rights, and personhood—would require an organizational design and structure that was similarly revolutionary. This project is still not finished, but the progress that has been made so far—including development of numerous enabling concepts, such as animal peoplehood, and finalization of the overall design parameters for the HNC in 2018—provides an inspiring glimpse into the future of government.
Genocide Recognition, Reparations, and Reconciliation Act
When the Humane Party first undertook, in 2010, the project that eventually became known as the “Genocide Recognition, Reparations, and Reconciliation Act” provision (§15) of the HP platform, many of its provisions seemed obscure to many people. However, recent events, such as those in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, have brought certain pieces of the GRRR provision to the forefront of national consciousness. Even many leading candidates in other political parties are now embracing at least portions of the GRRR—including candidates belonging to parties whose progenitors, such as Andrew Jackson and John Calhoun, are foremost among the slaveholders whose names and likenesses will be removed from public places of honor under the terms of this provision.
The “lesser-of-evils” theory or “two-party” myth is an extremely powerful means whereby Democrat-Republicans intimidate voters into voting for their candidates, even when their candidates oppose the voters’ own values and interests. This myth is, by far and away, the top reason why the Democrat-Republicans have now enjoyed over 150 years of uninterrupted—and basically unchallenged—hegemony in the U.S. In 2014, the HP developed the Tipping-Point Provision, to neutralize the voter-intimidation function, putting the onus on other parties’ candidates either to accept or reject the support of HP voters with a simple stroke of the pen; to enable the establishment of abolitionist caucuses inside the other parties; and to facilitate coalition-building with abolitionist candidates in other parties, a process which has now begun in earnest as a result of the Vegan Political Focus Meeting between the Green Party Animal Rights Committee and the Humane Party earlier this year.
Veggie Pride Parade
In 2018, the HP’s grassroots-mobilization entity, called the Thunder Fund, assumed organization of the Veggie Pride Parade NYC. This annual event, which began in 2008, is the largest event of its kind in the region, featuring dozens of vegan speakers and exhibitors in Manhattan’s Union Square Park as well as a colorful array of costumed participants in the parade. Managing this event has opened up a new channel through which the message of compassion and kindness can be presented to the public in a fun and easily approachable way.
The Humane Party’s first decade has included some wonderful developments. After we have taken a moment to be grateful for the opportunity to participate in this movement, let us redouble our commitment to bringing about a brighter future for the country, the planet, and all—meaning, all—of its inhabitants.