"We the People provides a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country. 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."
This is an interesting part of the official White House website, which I noticed for the first time last night when I was blogging about Christopher Dodd and discovered the petition demanding an investigation of his lobbying activities on behalf of the movie industry. (Is "lobbying" the wrong word?)
There were 10,378 signatures on the petition when I put the post up, and there are 16,459 now. (I'm not claiming credit for the increase.) 25,000 signatures are needed to force the White House staff to review it and respond. Note that you have to "create an account" on the White House site to sign, and if you sign your first name and last name initial, along with the name of your city, will be posted on the site. So that's something of a deterrent to signing. It's a bit of a test of how much you trust government.
When fascism comes to America, it will be with a smiley face (as George Carlin famously said (and Jonah Goldberg turned into a book cover)).
The White House will have your information, correlated to the petitions you've signed. You can see the subject matter of the currently open petitions. Click on filter by issue to get a sense of the issues raised by the people who trust the website with their information (and believe there's some point in petitioning this White House). That seems to explain why there are 0 petitions in the category "Firearms," but 15 in "Civil Rights and Liberties" and 13 in "Human Rights."
You can also filter by the number of signatures, and at the moment, the petition with the most signatures says: "Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening." Well, naturally... what did you expect? How seriously should the government take 25,000 signatures?
But this is one way the internet is working now, for what it's worth. Check out the video they used to announce the new petition function. (This came out last August, and I didn't notice.) I am amused by the effort — by the White House! — to display youthful innocence and enthusiasm. Very smiley face:
"It's an official way to make your voice heard.... And if your petition is among the most popular, a group of White House policy officials..." Video frame suddenly widens to show 9 young people in suits sitting around a White House table. They smile and wave at us. "... like this good-looking bunch, will review it, make sure it gets to the right people in the Obama administration, and craft an official response."
The right people in the Obama administration? But will they be a good-looking bunch? Because I want good-looking bunches crafting a response. An official response. Because it's an official way to make my voice heard. And policy officials will be reviewing my official petition to give an official response. Are you sure all this is official? And is everybody good-looking? Okay, then. Start crafting responses. Because after you've given me this official way to blow off steam, what will help me reach closure in this process is a well-crafted response. Official response. Official and well-crafted.
Thank you, President Obama and your good-looking bunch of officials. Thank you for this official outlet for all our frustrations with government.