We created 'We the People' because we want to hear from you. If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response. (Source: White House.gov - We the People)
As the policy statement quoted above indicates, the administration had a serious objective in mind when they decided to create a portal through which Americans could make their opinions heard at the highest level of our government in the form of petitions. Whether you are a supporter of the president or not, it must be said that this is the first time in history our chief executive has made it so relatively easy to bring an issue to his attention. Long gone are the days when the average citizen could stroll into the White House and get an audience with the president, the way things worked way back during the Lincoln administration.
It's quite instructive I think to see how Americans have responded to this unprecedented access to the executive branch policy makers. There have been quite a number of petitions that have raised serious issues uploaded to "We the People" site.
I feel quite confident that those who uploaded petitions asking that their states be allowed to secede from the United States never seriously believed that the federal government would ever allow such a thing. Yet there is little reason to doubt that the 387,459 residents representing eight different states who were dissatisfied enough to sign those petitions that asked for secession did make an impression. They quite clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with the state of the government. Who knows how much impact that had on administration policies but it seems reasonable to assume it likely did have some impact.
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There have been quite a few "legalize marijuana" petitions that have garnered sufficient signatures to get official responses from the White House. Given that the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to enforce federal drug laws pertaining to marijuana in Colorado and Washington when those states decided to legalize recreational pot, it seems quite likely those petitions did affect policy in a substantial way.
And then there have been those who haven't taken "We the People" seriously and instead have used it as a forum to demonstrate just how badly they overestimate their personal penchant for cleverness. Perhaps the best example of that was a petition asking the Obama administration to build a "Death Star" along the lines of that depicted in the fictional Star Wars films. I assume it was intended as a joke because I hope there aren't really 34,435 Americans, the number that signed the petition, so untethered from reality that they fail to understand that the Star Wars films were science fiction movies not reality.
Sure it was good fun and it got a lot of press coverage, not to mention someone in the administration had to waste time that might have been devoted to the serious business of running the government to make an official response to the petition. But the bottom line is we can thank those who uploaded and signed that bit of foolishness for the administration's decision to raise the petition threshold from 25,000 to 100,000 signatures making it exceedingly more difficult for the rest of us to get a serious issue addressed now than when the website first came on line. I hope their little joke was worth it since the joke was on the rest of the American people rather than the government.
Just yesterday (Jan. 23) another funny guy or girl, in his or her own mind at least, uploaded a petition asking that Canadian pop star Justin Bieber have his green card revoked and be deported. I am sure that pinhead is having lots of laughs and enjoying all the attention they are getting from their imaginary Facebook friends, basking in the limelight of their clever idea. At the time this piece was published, in less than 24 hours 8,552 others with the maturity of a 5-year-old, an immature five-year-old at that, have taken time to create an account and sign the Bieber petition. You have to wonder why they would want a guy deported that seems to fit right in with them, maturity-wise. If that petition passes the 100,000 signature threshold we can all have a good laugh when the administration raises the signature threshold to two or three hundred thousand which will all but guarantee that the "We the People" website will become effectively useless.
I'm not bringing this up because I think it will stop anyone from uploading dim-witted petitions because I'm a realist and I know there are far too many simple-minded people in our society who are also by the way, so egocentric that they could care less how their childish actions hurt others. As long as they entertain themselves and get the attention they crave, to heck with everybody else. It is probably asking too much for them to take time away from their video gaming, computers and smart phones to actually ponder complex concepts like maturity and personal responsibility.
I am all for having fun and like to think I have a good sense of humor, but of course adults understand that there is time to be serious and time to joke around. Using a resource established for a serious purpose for nonsense is just childish.
We uploaded a petition to "We the People" that concerns a serious issue for nudists, naturists and others who appreciate the choice of having expanded clothing optional access to federally-managed recreation areas. In comparison to the Bieber petition we have managed to attract 75-percent less signatures in 10 days than the deport Justin Bieber initiative has garnered in less than one full day. One can't help but wonder what that says about America.
Maybe it just says we have a lot more immature clowns in America than nudists and naturists who care about normalizing our lifestyle and seeing it become a more mainstream part of general culture. Or maybe it just says it is easier to get people's attention and their signature on a petition if you come up with something whimsical rather than something serious. Whatever it says, I have to admit I feel a lot less confident today about the future of this country.
Present circumstances also beg the point that if our general society had about half as much concern for censuring irresponsible, immature behavior as they have for worrying about whether people wear clothes or not, perhaps there would be a little more sense of personal responsibility in our country. Acting responsibility, now there is a social norm I could embrace. Perhaps so many people wouldn't be as egotistical as to believe they have some inalienable right to force everyone else to live up to their own personal values and moral codes. Perhaps there would be a little more tolerance in a society that masks its intolerance beneath a facade of political correctness which is of course just another tool for forcing your own perspective down the throats of everyone else.
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Have you signed the more clothing optional access petition? http://wh.gov/lIUyG