A few weeks ago, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the pork industry colluded to stop an important animal protection bill from becoming law. The governor of Iowa, Terry Branstad, praised Christie’s veto, which allows pig torture to remain legal in the Garden State. (On a side note, Branstad was called out for his stunning lack of knowledge about the bill.) But this enthusiasm might be short-lived. Over the long-run, the pork industry and Christie may come to regret this cold-hearted decision because of the public anger it unleashed.
Here’s the Backstory
Earlier this year, Republicans and Democrats in the N.J. legislature came together under the leadership of Senator Raymond Lesniak to overwhelmingly pass a ban on gestation crates. Factory farm operators often confine pigs used for breeding in these barren metal cages, which are so small these smart animals can’t even turn around. Many go insane, and their joints and muscles deteriorate from the forced immobilization.
A staggering 93 percent of New Jerseyans wanted Christie to sign the legislation, but he vetoed it. Why would a politician spurn his constituents on a modest animal protection bill? Could it be because Christie wants to become president?
New Jersey plays only a minor role in presidential contests, but Iowa holds the first caucuses in the country. Iowa also happens to be the largest pork producing state. Because of the influence pork industry execs hold in state politics, less-principled politicians who want to become president do everything they can to prostrate themselves before these pork kings.
Needless to say, it was disappointing to many that Christie chose perceived personal political gains over compassion. But ironically, his short-sighted action may actually hasten the decline of gestation crates while simultaneously destroying his “straight talking” image he’s spent years cultivating. Christie once told a reporter that he would “always put the people of New Jersey and my oath ahead of petty personal politics.” Thanks to compelling pieces on the Daily Show, All In with Chris Hayes, and many other news outlets, millions of Americans have now learned about the cruelty of the pork industry, and that Christie will do nearly anything to advance his own ambitions.
Moreover, the public has learned just how regressive Christie and his pork industry pals are. Gestation crates have already been banned in nine states, and in dozens of nations around the world. After hearing from consumers and experts, the top restaurant and supermarket companies are demanding their pork suppliers stop using these unnecessary cages.
We’re Not Giving Up
Animal advocates will not stop working to ban these cruel cages in the Garden State until the job is done, and we’re confident that day will come sooner rather than later. But while the future looks bright for this important effort, it’s hard to say the same for Chris Christie’s legacy. After a debate that captured national attention, he just demonstrated that he cares more about his personal gain than protecting the most vulnerable.
Image source: Pete/Flickr