70 Members of Congress & United Poultry Concerns ask VP candidates to address global warming & meat
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah––Will the October 7, 2020 debate between Republican vice president Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential challenger Kamala Harris bring the first direct challenge in 92 years to the political promise of putting a chicken in every pot?
Herbert Hoover, U.S. president from 1929 to 1933, is widely credited with popularizing the phrase “a chicken in every pot” during his 1928 election campaign.
In truth, the phrase was coined and publicized by his New York City campaign committee, not by Hoover himself. But it came to be lastingly associated with Hoover when used to headline a Hoover campaign committee advertisement published in the October 30, 1928 edition of The New York Times.
“A chicken in every pot” ushered in the Great Depression
“A chicken in every pot” was then turned against Hoover, and appropriated as a perennial promise of Democratic candidates, symbolizing prosperity, after the Black Thursday crash of the New York City stock exchange on October 24, 1929 ushered in the Great Depression.
Televised public debate over national ambitions and strategies did not begin until the 1960 presidential election campaign. Vice presidential candidates first debated in 1976.
Food policy, in one form and another, has since then often been raised in debate by presidential and vice presidential candidates, in discussion of programs for fighting hunger, trade policy, and farm subsidies.
Never have candidates debated the consequences
Yet never, to date, has any candidate from either party raised either the ecological or the public health consequences of policies centered on putting a chicken in every pot.
This today means factory-farmed meat sold to Americans at substantially less than the heavily underwritten cost of production––albeit that most of the expense is hidden in environmental damage suffered by future generations, health care costs, premature deaths, and animal suffering, an effect barely politically recognized, since animals do not vote.
A hint that the 2020 presidential campaign might be different came on September 2, 2020, when a coalition of 70 Congressional Representatives issued an open appeal to the Commission on Presidential Debates to place climate change on the debating agenda.
“One of the great honors of being a Member of Congress,” the coalition began, “is we are closely connected to the neighborhoods and towns we serve. People can––and often do––come up to us in supermarkets, local businesses, or at community events to press for answers on the issues that matter most to them.”
With “supermarkets” mentioned first as a focal point for public concern, the coalition continued, “Our constituents need to hear from President [Donald] Trump, Vice President [Joe] Biden, Vice President Pence, and Senator Harris about how they will address one of the most pressing and all-consuming issues currently facing our country: the climate crisis,” specifically changes associated with global warming, to which meat production contributes as much, in the form of so-called “greenhouse gases,” as all forms of transportation combined.
“This cannot happen again”
“In 2016,” the coalition reminded, “there was not a single question on climate change in any of the four presidential and vice-presidential debates. This cannot happen again.
“Climate change is no longer an issue that is looming in the distance,” the coalition emphasized. “It is here, and it is being felt acutely right now. We see it in the wildfires ravaging the west, the heatwaves gripping much of the nation, the hurricanes and derechos devastating communities, and extreme flooding and drought threatening lives and livelihoods. Not to mention the grave environmental injustices impacting people of color, who often experience the effects of climate change first and most.
“Four central crises. One makes the others worse”
“We understand there are four central crises that the presidential and vice-presidential candidates must address: the ongoing pandemic, a struggling economy, racial injustice, and the climate crisis,” the coalition acknowledged.
“But of these four, there is one which will exacerbate each of the other three, if not addressed immediately. We need a dedicated discussion on the climate crisis that matches the importance of this moment,” the 70 Members of Congress concluded.
“An inconvenient truth”
Bold though the demand for debate over the climate crisis might have seemed, however, it unfortunately sidestepped the real focal issue: whether Americans are at last willing to move beyond the “chicken in every pot” metaphor to recognize the necessity of accepting dietary change, before climatic change forces it upon us.
Further to that will be what role elected leadership will take, when and if “a chicken in every pot” is exchanged as a goal for a healthy diet and environment for every person, now and in the future.
It is not difficult to imagine distinctive Republican and Democratic approaches to introducing the needed changes, if and when the need is accepted.
Currently, though, the incumbent Trump/Pence administration appears locked in climate change denial, which appears to be bringing us only wildfire hells and high water.
Meanwhile, as the sidestepping from the 70 Members of Congress indicates, Democratic leaders have so far been reluctant to challenge the public with what 2000 losing presidential candidate Al Gore called An Inconvenient Truth, albeit that Gore too sidestepped the meat issue.
Karen Davis ups the ante
United Poultry Concerns founder Karen Davis has now upped the ante in an open letter published below:
7 September 2020
Urge Kamala Harris to Stand Up To Mike Pence on “America’s Meat” Consumption
Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris has made vague but potentially more invigorating suggestions that she favors educating the public about the damaging effect of “red” meat on the environment, climate, and human health. She said she’d consider changing the U.S.’s dietary guidelines to encourage people to eat less meat. At a CNN town hall meeting in 2019, she expressed support for “creating incentives that we will eat in a healthy way” and “that we will be educated about the effect of our eating habits on our environment.”
At this prospect, Vice President Mike Pence scoffed in a recent campaign speech to Iowa farmers: “Well I’ve got some red meat for you. We’re not going to let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris cut America’s meat.”
The Huffington Post reported that “Social media lit up after Pence made his remarks, with commentators pointing out that they were looking forward to the vice president engaging in meat debates with Harris on the national stage.”
Favoring Harris’s remarks, an August 14 article on indy100, Mike Pence ridiculed for claiming Kamala Harris and Joe Biden want to stop Americans eating meat, reminded readers that:
“Harris’ concerns are echoed by the United Nations, who found in 2019 that the main contributors to the extinction crisis are farming and overfishing, followed by meat and dairy production. During their annual report on climate change, the UN also encouraged people to swap to a plant-based diet to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
What Can I Do?
One month from today, on Wednesday evening, October 7, Kamala Harris and Mike Pence will meet on the vice presidential debate stage. Urge Sen. Harris to use this platform and others to inform the American people how vital it is that we replace animal products – not just “red” meat – with nutritious, compassionate, environmentally-regenerative plant-based foods. Urge her to use her powerful position and commanding voice to argue – for the sake of our health, animals, and the planet – that choosing plant-based foods is a winning vote for the future.
Email Kamala Harris:
Address/Phone/Fax for each of Harris’s six offices: https://www.harrissenate.gov/contact/offices.
Click on each office image for postal service address, phone & fax numbers.
Thank YOU for Raising YOUR Voice!
United Poultry Concerns
Kamala Harris has been challenged to talk about meat before, notably on June 1, 2019, when Direct Action Everywhere protester Aiden Cook, 24, jumped onstage during a Big Ideas Forum hosted in San Francisco by MoveOn, a political organization aligned with the Democratic Party.
Cook took the microphone from Harris, and briefly spoke before security personnel took him away.
But Cook spoke so unintelligibly that neither Harris nor many other people had any idea what he was shouting about.
Direct Action Everywhere cofounder Wayne Hsiung issued a public apology to Harris a day later.
This time the challenge is respectful, issued well in advance, and made with clearly supportive intentions. ANIMALS 24-7 looks forward to seeing how both Harris and Pence respond.
(See Kamala Harris: long record on animal issues, including pit bull attacks.)
I highly respect the work you do. Its the whole food police, thought police stuff… Its TOO MANY PEOPLE want a PIECE OF CAKE (Vegan foods are highly processed. Babies need milk. and us old people need milk). People need to eat less meat, but you are more likely to get food disease from vegies, meat can be cooked Its the whole food police thing, be balanced. Eat vegan, vegetarian several times a week and eat smaller portions of meat. ITs too many people, big trucks, big homes causing global warming. Its not fracking, its not gas. ITS too many people want a piece of cake (McCartney and Lennon). I have neighbors and family that only eat meat, and grill it all the time, I keep wondering why they don’t all have stomach cancer? They drive big trucks and never haul stock or building materials, they drive themselves into Denver. Go figure its not fracking its big cars when you only need to take the bus (bus service in Denver is crashing, and train system is crashing, no one takes it), but they drive their big Dodge Ram/Ford/Chevy/Toy Pickups. Very sad. The government needs to do what Germany and France do, tax by engine size!!! Stop making gas expensive, make cars more expensive. Also, we need to have birth control as an over the counter (OTC) drug.
Climate change is not only here, but even worse, the effects that we are feeling now are from 20 years ago, imagine what we have done to 20 years in the future.
Karen Davis says
Your discussion of the politics of climate-change policies (or lack thereof) and related concerns about industrial animal farming and unhealthy eating practices afflicting the U.S. population is very informative if sobering. Agribusiness is such a powerful Congressional lobby. Lobbyists don’t have to do much persuading, since most members of Congress are already on board with “cheeseburgers,” dairy, and a “chicken in every pot.” Maybe this year will show a shift of focus by members of Congress toward these issues. We must try as best we can to make that happen.
So thank you again Animals 24-7 for your informative reporting about things that matter but that rarely reach the ears of the general public, in part because the primal desires of agribusiness (including so-called small farmers), members of Congress, and the average person, are in accord. All the more reason to raise our voices, as Henry David Thoreau did about human slavery, and be a friction against the Machine.
Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns. http://www.upc-online.org
Jamaka Petzak says
The advent of TV ads hawking Morning Star Farms and fast food chains’ “mock meat” burgers should give cause for hope. Unfortunately, I know all too well the reluctance and outright refusal of far too many people, even here in “la-la land” to even TRY these substitutes, let alone truly healthy vegan options. I’ve gone from being mostly vegan to consuming some animal products myself, over the years, for different reasons; and I can’t say I’m “happy” with my diet now, but several factors play into this and my feeling is that my personal lifestyle isn’t making much of a difference one way or the other.
In order to truly effect change on a wide scale, the minds of the general public have to change; and that is one very, very tall order in the best of times, not to mention the worst.
Karen Davis says
“my feeling is that my personal lifestyle isn’t making much of a difference one way or the other.
In order to truly effect change on a wide scale, the minds of the general public have to change.”
With all due respect to your understandable feelings, Jamaka, our personal choice of not making an animal suffer and die for us makes all the difference for that animal. In effect, we make a pledge to the animals that we will stand by them and not needlessly hurt them – whether or not it makes a difference in how others behave.
It’s easy to say that nothing can happen until people’s minds have changed, but how do you suppose that happens? A passive, nothing-I-do-seems-to matter-approach does not help to change minds. One thing we should never do is go back to exploiting animals because we’re disappointed in society’s indifference.
I’m sorry, but Global Warming is TOO MANY PEOPLE, nothing to do with food. Solar panels from China are failing after 10 years, which is predicted. Land fills will be filled with Solar Panels from China, and soon. Its too many people, 80% of the fires are human caused, It was a US gov study Eating highly processed foods is not the answer, solar panels are not the answer, but eating less meat and using less energy is. I read an editorial that the US can sustain a Billion people is total nonsense… Mediterranean diet is healthy, First Start with a limit of 6000 sq ft homes yes the 30K sq ft plus of billionaire families.WHAT!! Big TRUCKS driving every day to work, a man thing.. waste of gas, waste of space and its from advertising.. envy of having a bigger truck… We need limits 1950s/60s homes and smaller cars is a first step.
Pence’s ridiculous posturing about “red meat” reeked of desperation. As if federal nutrition guidelines affect the amount of food types produced––guidelines have for years suggested sugary snacks and junk food to be eaten only rarely––is there a dearth of these products in the U.S.? And how many people do you know who consult federal nutrition guidelines when choosing what to eat anyway? Pretty much no one.
He’s just grasping at straws, trying to get people riled up about an emotional topic…and the thought of someone discouraging eating meat is one of the most emotional topics out there, especially for those who are already feeling insecure in their lives.
Jeannie Granda says
Great in theory-quite possibly won’t work out in practice, oh well..