Pets, Parks, and Presidential Politics
Some unusual topics for a presidential campaign
While preparing a comparison of the candidates’ environmental positions, I saw some interesting positions by Hillary Clinton that didn’t fit neatly into the comparison. They deal with topics that aren’t usually covered in national campaigns: city parks, animal welfare, and improved stewardship by ranchers and farmers.
I’ve written previously about the importance of city parks. Clinton’s website includes an interesting discussion of parks. She Clinton pledges to “launch an initiative to restore and revitalize more than 3,000 city parks within ten years, including by providing new national service opportunities for youth, veterans, and others.” She plans to do this “by restoring, updating, and investing $40 million annually in the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery Program and $10 million annually in AmeriCorps to create and support opportunities for Americans to get involved directly in revitalizing open spaces and recreational sites in their communities.”
Animal welfare is another subject that is far from the major political battlefields. Clinton has a several proposals addressing the issues, including increased protection for wildlife and for horses. For instance, she proposes to “[p]rotect pets and domesticated animals by making sure facilities like animal breeders, zoos, and research institutions create plans to protect the animals in their care during disasters; strengthening regulations of “puppy mills” and other harmful commercial breeding facilities; and supporting the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act.” I wasn’t familiar with PACT, which turns out to be legislation supported by the Humane Society to make animal abuse activities that cross state lines a federal offense.
There’s also an unusual entry under the Environment heading on the website: “Rural Communities.” Among other things, Clinton pledges to “increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in local food markets and regional food systems.” She also calls for “fully fund[ing] the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), which provides assistance to producers – including a set-aside for minorities and veterans – who are working to conserve and improve natural resources on their farms and ranches.” She also says she will “ask the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a “one stop shop” to help farmers and ranchers identify programs that may provide financial support for their conservation practices, including securing additional access for hunters and anglers.” There’s also a strongly worded attack on wildlife smuggling.
These are not issues that are going to sway the vote of the average voter, and it’s not even easy to find all of this material on the website; a lot of it is buried away two layers down on factsheets. Perhaps this material is just intended to show the comprehensiveness of Clinton’s vision. Or it may be designed as a foundation to targeted outreach to particular groups – these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if the campaign’s data base allowed them to identify which people are members of the Humane Society, for instance. What’s intriguing, however, is the effort to connect larger environmental issues with more day-to-day aspects of people’s lives. It’s an interesting strategy.