White House, Tiring of Death Stars And Deportation Requests, Ups 'We The People' Signature Threshold From 25,000 To 100,000

from the 4chan-says:-challenge-accepted! dept

The White House has just raised the signature threshold at the "We the People" website from 25,000 to 100,000, no doubt in an attempt to trim down the number of Death Star/deportation/secession/impeachment petitions it must respond to. (Why no one thought to kill two birds with one stone and exile Piers Morgan to the newly-seceded Republic of Texas is beyond me.) Of course, it's been very selective in answering petitions up to this point, making the signature threshold essentially meaningless, but let's try to view the positive aspects.

The new level will only apply to petitions going forward, meaning that those that met the previous threshold level will still be ignored/glad-handed in the administration's consistently arbitrary fashion. While this new level looks at first glance to be the sort of workload easing common to entrenched government entities, the fact is that We the People's traffic has doubled over the past two months. According to the numbers posted, petitions are passing the 25,000 signature threshold within five days, which is a bit of a problem when over 70,000 petitions get crafted in less than 60 days.

In fact, a petition to lower the count "for taking us seriously" back to the previous level has already gathered over 1,500 signatures (in less than a day), possibly sending the White House on a collision course with some sort of signature threshold loop. (Not that this system actually works like that, but it's fun to pretend...)


Unsurprisingly, the top three petition categories are Civil Rights, Government Reform and Human Rights, suggesting that the American people are very unhappy with the ongoing rights erosion in this country -- and that they know where to start fixing this. Of course, the administration has been more than willing to route around obstacles like the Bill of Rights, so several thousand e-signatures isn't exactly going to break it of this habit. But, if any politician is interested in catching up on the issues their constituents actually care about, they could do worse than taking a long, hard look at petitions from these three categories.

While it's far from a perfect system, it's the best we've got, as they say. Raising the threshold level should result in more petitions with broader support receiving responses, barring any sort of 4chan-esque ballot stuffing. Even if many of the responses tend to be talking-point heavy and come across as a bit "canned," at least some of those petitioning the government will be able to walk away (angrily, most likely) from the experience with some sort of closure. The administration does need to be more responsive -- both in number of petitions responded to and in the quality of the answers. Talking points may be great when delivering a "top down" stump speech, but they don't really stand up to the sort of scrutiny the internet can deliver.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    AJBarnes, Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:22am

    Reform

    So I guess that means Texas won't be able to secede...

     

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    shane (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:31am

    The Next Step

    After passing the threshold and getting (or not getting) a response, the next step is to take the official response (or lack thereof) and run with it to the public.

    If people are so unhappy, where is the activism? I tell you, a clever person would form a political party. They would form it not for the most extreme fringes of the existing parties, but for the broad middle.

    The power that could come from ACTUALLY representing the people could be worth the trouble.

    Mike? Anyone?

     

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      E. Zachary Knight (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:58am

      Re: The Next Step

      "I tell you, a clever person would form a political party."

      People have been forming new parties for years now with little luck. The major problem with that idea is that the two major parties have so entrenched themselves in government and media that it is nearly impossible to gain national party status consistently between the 50 states. If you do manage to gain status in all 50 states, the problem then becomes a matter of exposure. With most media outlets being run by entrenched players in the current two parties, getting serious air time on their networks is near impossible.

      Do we need new parties? Yes. Yes we do. However, short of a revolution, it will be near impossible for such an effort to take hold in the minds of the people.

       

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        shane (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

        Re: Re: The Next Step

        It seems to me you ignored one of the most prominent points in my post. The new party needs to be populist, centrist - something, anything other than composed of the most ludicrous parts of the existing parties (greens, libertarians).

        In the past, what has happened is that the major parties have usurped the pet policies of these sorts of parties once they get to a point where they are viable.

        What is needed is a party very specifically engineered to give voice to the majority.

        There are those who argue that such a party cannot have a base and therefore is not viable, but I think it is becoming very clear that, if such a party does NOT materialize, we will indeed end up in the bloody revolution you seem to be calling for. Whereas I believe it is possible for such a party to thrive, and the benefit of it for those who fund its activities would be to be seen as someone who cares about the broader community and about general human welfare.

        That cannot help but be a profitable perception to have attached to your business.

         

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        Gwiz (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: The Next Step

        The major problem with that idea is that the two major parties have so entrenched themselves in government and media that it is nearly impossible to gain national party status consistently between the 50 states. [...] With most media outlets being run by entrenched players in the current two parties, getting serious air time on their networks is near impossible.

        Personally, I see this problem lessening as the "internet generation" grows older. More and more young people rely on the internet for news as opposed to broadcast TV. Once the baby boom bubble recedes the internet will become more important for a political campaign than broadcast TV. The SOPA protests were the first flexing of these new muscles.

         

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      jupiterkansas (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:42pm

      Re: The Next Step

       

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:36am

    no doubt in an attempt to trim down the number of Death Star/deportation/secession/impeachment petitions it must respond to

    no doubt in an attempt to trim down the number of Death Star/deportation/secession/impeachment petitions it must respond to

    Yeah, sure that's it. /s

    I am listening says the deaf guy.

     

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      varagix, Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

      Re: no doubt in an attempt to trim down the number of Death Star/deportation/secession/impeachment petitions it must respond to

      I see, said the blind man to his deaf dog.

       

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    Forest_GS (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:43am

    "162 Petitions have already received an official response"

    ...

    Launched in September 22, 2011...that would be a little over one year for 162 responses...about 1 every two days..

    I was expecting a lot more per-year. They should be able to do at least one per day for such a large nation.

     

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    Chris Brand (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:44am

    There's definitely a message for politicians there

    More than 50% more petitions about civil rights than about the economy ? And how much time do they spend debating those two issues ? Even more telling, how much time was devoted to campaigning on those two issues ?

    So if it's not the average voter who's mostly concerned about the economy, who is it ? Perhaps the politicians themselves and their backers ?

     

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    Jeff (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:48am

    These are not the signatures you're looking for...

     

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    sophisticatedjanedoe (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:50am

    Disagree with the caption. White House loves Death Star petitions. It would be happy if every petition was similar to that notorious one instead of raising painful legitimate grievances.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:51am

    I have little or no faith in this 'We the people'. The site has morphed from one where they wanted to hear what people wanted to one to push the current admin's wish list.

    The first one passing dealt with marijuana, which was very carefully danced around with the standard, canned, official position response. It had all the look and feel of having been copied from a speech somewhere. It followed shortly after with action against the marijuana dispensaries in California.

    The thing is the response didn't consider the validity of the petition. It only considered the official position. That told me right then that they were not serious about hearing what concerned people but rather pushing the official line.

     

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      shane (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

      I agree

      The power of the site for dissent is to then take the response and out it.

      If they were to then eventually shut it down, that would be all the better. Then you could discuss the duplicity of the administration and the Democratic party for putting the thing out there as a publicity stunt, then turning its back on its core constituency when they succeed in getting petitions on the site.

       

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        Chosen Reject (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:46pm

        Re: I agree

        They'll never shut it down. It's an awesome tool to have all the people who want change to congregate and let off their steam so they have less energy and will to protest on the National Mall. A bunch of people show up on that site, voice their anger, get a response, and feel like they've done something, so they are much less likely to continue petitioning the government in other ways to air their grievances.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

          Re: Re: I agree

          Bonus points for having a list of all these malcontents in one place, the IP address(es) they use to access the internet, what topics they care about, and their physical location.

           

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      Ninja (profile), Jan 18th, 2013 @ 1:53am

      Re:

      I wholeheartedly agree with most of your post. However, it rises awareness. It's there so everybody in the world sees it. If the Government keeps ignoring it then they might find themselves under international pressure pretty soon to live up to the standards they demand from the world...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    I'd love to see 4chan go crazy with the whole petition thing.

     

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      akp (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:15pm

      Re:

      What makes you think they haven't, and that is what's partly responsible for the new threshold?

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

        Re: Re:

        That lack of true response, and political BS answers is the reason for 4chan's involvement in the first place. I fully expect this to go i-nuclear and require 1,000,000 signatures by next year.

         

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    Zos (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:25pm

    lol, we had that on the first weed petition in 48 hours. upping the threshold doesnt mean shit until they stop issuing press releases when people are looking for honesty and transparency and real communication.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Congress members should set up their own petition site

    Congress members should set up their own petition web sites. That way they could see what their constituents are really interested in.

    Maybe there should be an easy to set up canned open source system. (Not that I'm volunteering to build one.)

    Maybe politicians' pay masters will start to become concerned about a gradual internet uprising. It's inevitable that eventually frustrated voters will self organize ("mobilize" so to speak) and makes some changes. It might not happen the way violent revolutions do.

    The problem is, the new guys voted in will be as corrupt as the old guys. Campaign financing needs to be fixed. That is well known. But maybe instead of fixing it, what if it can simply be made irrelevant.

    It's not that there aren't genuinely good people who would like to genuinely make changes for the good of all. It's that they can't get voted in without a lot of money. If they have personal wealth already, then they already often don't represent most voters. If they don't have wealth, they'll never get the necessary support of major corporations.

    It might take an internet voter communication platform (eg an "internet revolution") and enough voters who care to make some real changes.

    Just daydreaming . . .

    Suppose enough voters used a platform such that campaigning, ads, negative ads etc, no longer had any effect on the election outcome. Suddenly a good candidate could engage through some online system that voters organize on, and the candidate's lack of major corporate support wouldn't matter. Then things might start changing. The core problem of campaign bribery would lose its power.

    Just wishful thinking.

     

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    AdamBv1 (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 1:07pm

    Speaking of ignored petitions, this one was featured on Techdirt a while back (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120521/12463519005/) and while it got over double the required signatures it never got a response. I guess they didn't have a press release/talking points memo handy that quite covered the issue well enough so they just ignored it.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 1:09pm

    New petition idea.

    "Reset the threshold back to 25,000"

     

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    gorehound (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 3:38pm

    I am thinking we should just ignore it most of the time.Probably the only good response I got in something like 2 or 3 years of signing things was the Death Star One.

     

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    Loki, Jan 17th, 2013 @ 4:45pm

    suggesting that the American people are very unhappy with the ongoing rights erosion in this country -- and that they know where to start fixing this.

    If they really knew where to start fixing this, Lamar Smith, Dianne Feinstein, Orin Hatch and most of the rest of Congress would be out looking for new jobs. Voting the same tired, inept, incompetent, and/or morally/ethically corrupt people into office and then asking them to fix the system they've bent, broken, or corrupted beyond any semblance of decency does not indicate clue one about how to actually know where to go to fix the problems we face.

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jan 17th, 2013 @ 11:54pm

    White House discovers if you make it as easy as casting your vote for American Idol people get involved.

     

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    Anonymous, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 3:39am

    It's the government that should be deported...to hell.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    > entrenched

    Was that an intentional Deathstar pun, Tim?

     

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