By Steve Hindi
November 25, 2016

We’re Winning! It was phrased a few different ways, but that was the claim from the Hillary Clinton camp in the weeks before her stunning loss to Donald Trump. Now we can look forward to four years with a habitually lying, racist, tax evading, cheating, misogynistic, bullying sexual predator in the White House. Trump’s tenure will make the disaster of the George W. Bush presidency look like the good old days.

While Hillary Clinton is no hero for animals, she lacks Trumps massive character flaws that will forever diminish both the presidency, and our standing as a nation. Like any candidate, Clinton is imperfect, but she doesn’t have offspring who qualify for animal serial killer status like Donald Trump’s sons, who have been only half-comedically been compared by comedian Bill Maher to Uday and Qusay Hussein, the murderous, psychopathic sons of the late Saddam Hussein.

As vice president-elect Mike Pence said, “Buckle Up.” What Pence didn’t say is that the ride we will all be forced to endure only goes down. Welcome to our new position on the world stage - that of a laughingstock.

What has this to do with the animal protection movement? The premature declarations of “We’re Winning” from the Clinton camp was hauntingly similar to what I’ve heard for the past two years at the national animal rights convention sponsored by the Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM). “We’re Winning!” was in fact the title of the closing plenaries for 2015 and 2016.

The “We’re Winning!” claim is so patently absurd that I can only surmise those willing to utter it are either habitual liars, or are hold only a tenuous grip on reality. My efforts to bring about a fact-based review of where we currently stand as opposed to spewing nonsense was repeatedly ignored.

Regarding the election, I feel bad for Hillary and worse for the country. Given the closeness of the vote, I think the outcome might have been different if there hadn’t been hubris ahead of the final battle.

I feel far worse for the fate of the animals who will suffer and die because there are those in this movement who, for the sake of marketing or to boost attendance at next year’s conferences, and for fundraising purposes, are willing to make preposterous claims of victory.

Analysts now tell us that many people just didn’t come out for Hillary. That’s a danger of telling people “we’re winning” before the battle is waged. In the battle for animal protection, the status of our struggle is clear. Nonhumans are suffering and dying on a level that can’t even be perceived, so why would anyone minimize the plight of the animals by claiming “we’re winning?”

If you don’t know where you are, it is impossible to successfully chart a path to where you want to go. If someone tells you to get to Chicago, and you have no idea of your current position, how do you chart a course? Worse yet, what if someone claims you are starting from San Diego, when you are actually in New York?

Those who claim “We’re Winning” have either been away from the front lines way too long, or they were never there at all. In any case, they have lost their way, and are in no position to chart a course going forward.

Spend time on the front lines, and you will know how dismally we are failing our nonhuman friends. This movement needs activists who are fired up and motivated to make significant change, not settling back and relaxing with false assurances that “we’re winning.”

Just take a look at the news, and you’ll see that activists for other causes understand the need for frontline action. Whether they be for gun rights with the NRA, women’s rights, civil rights via most recently Black Lives Matter, gay rights, and native American rights such as the recent actions regarding the pipeline in North Dakota. In the real world, it is understood that front line action is a vital component of change.

Animal people once understood the need for frontline activism as well. A relative few grassroots activists still do, but the big corporate groups eschew the notion of getting out of their suits and leaving the comfort of their offices. Just send a generous check and perhaps sign a petition to build an organization’s mailing list, and pay dearly to attend the next gala or conference, and things will turn out fine.

Unfortunately, things aren’t fine at all.

Attendees of conferences and the movement as a whole don’t get a crucial sense of urgency as they sit in a fancy hotel. This movement is sitting on its collective butt when what is needed is strong, intelligent, strategic action.

The animals are losing everything, and much of the abuse is unopposed. When SHARK publicly invited some of the largest, loudest and most wealthy animal protection organizations in the so-called movement on three separate occasions in 2016, not a single one of those groups came through. Not one. Apparently only the grassroots groups are willing to stand up, but they lack resources.

I wouldn’t mind that these leaders and their groups didn’t join our frontline efforts if they had some of their own, but they’re apparently too busy raising and counting money, and falsely declaring “we’re winning” to be saddled with actually getting out in the real world to make real change.

We’re Winning? That’s not just nonsensical - it’s shockingly delusional. With Trump in office, it will be much worse.

It is time for the so-called leaders of this movement to stop lying, stop bragging, and step up. Let’s see them personally get out on the killing fields and show some real leadership. This struggle is too important, the stakes are too high, and potential activists need to understand the gravity of the situation.

Do we want real, positive change for animals, or just the illusion that allows us to sleep better at night and feel good about ourselves? We should decide carefully, because kidding each other is the kind of behavior that has just slapped the United States with Donald Trump as our next president.

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