“We need tougher animal protection laws!”

This is one of the few mantras that almost everyone in the animal welfare/animal rights movements can agree on. The question is how do you do it? Laws are passed by legislators who supposedly represent their constituents, not by the voters themselves, and therein rests the problem. With mid-term elections a week away and voting already underway in some states, how can voters identify candidates who support animal welfare legislation?

Representative government works only so long as the voters have the ability to make intelligent choices about the candidates. How many issues do Candidate “A” and I agree on? How about Candidate “B?” Do I vote the straight party line because Democrats and always right and Republicans are always wrong, or vice versa? Or because my parents were staunch supporters of one party or another and it’s too difficult to give the matter any real thought? And where does the Tea Party fit in?

Thomas Jefferson said: “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” Unfortunately, being an informed voter is getting harder and harder these days. Somewhere along the line political advertising took a nasty turn and innuendo took precedence over issues. You can thank the United States Supreme Court for that, in part at least. Earlier this year, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, the Court tossed out many restrictions on corporate spending for election advertising. One result has been a rash of negative political ads sponsored by organizations that often have no direct c