Citizen petitions in the internet age

If I got my news from TV, perhaps I’d have heard of this before. I haven’t listened to any of Obama’s speeches, or anyone’s analysis and commentary on his speeches. I may have seen a brief mention of the “We the People” website last month, but didn’t bother to find out what it was about.

It was an article at the Wall Street Journal that informed me about Obama’s initiative to make it easier for people to collect signatures on petitions to the government and to get the most popular ones addressed promptly. I have to admit that I first had to Google the whole idea of citizen petitions, as that part of the First Amendment was one I had forgotten about – if I even remembered it past the test on the Constitution in eleventh grade civics class.

Somehow I doubt that the framers of the Constitution could have imagined some of the “grievances” over which citizens would one day seek “redress,” any more than they could have imagined the high-tech means by which petitions would one day be submitted. Some of the petitions that caught my eye are:

  • Promote legislation to prevent public schools from starting earlier than 8 a.m.
  • Reinstall Solar Panels on the White House
  • Stop all Wild Horse Roundups
  • Complete the U.S. Transition to the modern metric system. Allowing us to manufacture items we could sell to the World.
  • Preserve 6 Day Mail Delivery

These are far from the most popular, though each has hundreds of signatures. Legalizing marijuana has by far the most signatures, though forgiving student loan debt, cracking down on puppy mills, and abolishing the TSA are also among the top five right now. I am somewhat heartened that a petition to dissolve the electoral college (which I’m not saying I necessarily agree with, but it deserves consideration) is nearly 5000 signatures ahead of a petition to acknowledge the presence of extraterrestrials.

Are these the issues that people care about most? Are they the problems that seem to require involvement by the White House because other means to deal with them have failed? Are the people who write these petitions, and the ones who sign them, representative of the country as a whole?

If so, I must be more out of touch with society than I thought. I didn’t think I was missing anything worthwhile by not watching TV. But I suppose watching it would remind me what a strange world I live in.

What surprises me is that nowhere in the list (at least not under Government Reform where one would expect it to be categorized) did I see anything like the “Congressional Amendment of 2012” proposed here, a something similar to which one of my cousins posted on facebook today. I know lots of people would be happy to sign that one.


One Response to Citizen petitions in the internet age

  1. modestypress says:

    Everyday, I think, what a strange world we live in.

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