In New Jersey, a moral drama is unfolding. Governor Chris Christie has presidential ambitions. He'd like to be as popular as possible with Republicans voters in important primary states like New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina. He'd also like to do the right thing—or at least be seen as doing the right thing—when a piece of legislation crosses his desk, demanding a signature or veto.
And those desires are now in conflict.
There's an animal-welfare bill on his desk. Its premise is that slaughtering pigs to be consumed as carnitas or prosciutto or bacon or ham hocks is fine (if not quite kosher), but that confining pregnant pigs to an enclosure so small that they can't even turn around for as long as two and a half years is straightforwardly cruel and immoral.
Signing this law would be unpopular in Iowa, where there are more than 20 million pigs, and pork producers who stand to lose a lot of money if forced to house them more humanely, and who get nervous when government regulators meddle in livestock practices. Signing the bill may well hurt Christie's chances in the Iowa caucuses. Is it nevertheless clear that signing the law is the right thing to do?
Christie has no principled objection to laws against animal cruelty. The New Jersey Legislature, which has studied the matter in much greater depth than the governor, passed the bill by an overwhelming margin and with bipartisan support, even though Christie vetoed an almost identical bill back in 2013. New Jersey voters also support the legislation by a wide margin.