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View Diary: Where Are The Activists? I'm Only Getting Petition-Signing Emails (86 comments)

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  •  I think this is not really right. (9+ / 0-)
    Petitions go to more than the White House. Some have an impact, make a difference. Some do not.
    It's misleading. There has been such a proliferation of petitions that they almost never matter anymore. Everybody has got a petition. And they're often used as nothing more than marketing ploys by organizations eager to get your contact info. The truth is that petitions are, for the most part, a complete and total waste of time. You are right (probably, though I've never actually seen it happen) that some petitions make a difference. But instead of following that with "some do not", you should have said "the vast, vast majority do not".

    People always say "I couldn't think of anything else I could do to help, so I started this petition, it probably won't work but it is better than doing nothing".

    No, it's not.

    •  Try milk in your corn flakes rather than what (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pinto Pony, 3goldens, Simplify

      you're now mixing with them.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:03:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There always has to be the first dickish comment (4+ / 0-)

        in every thread.  Congratulations!

      •  If you look at the WH petition website, you (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Free Jazz at High Noon, Lujane, FG

        have to admit that a large portion of the petitions are either incomprehensible, impossible or incredibly specific/stupid.  Potentially good stuff gets lost in the jumble of things like this:

        "Strongly urge the United States announced the property status of the Chinese officials' children in the United States"

        "We request the United States government will Lanzhou beef noodle unity and proscribe imitations by formal decree" [This one has 600 signatures]

        "Proclaim May 25, 2014 as National Geek Pride Day"

        "(May #4 of 7) Allow Americans to vote "Yes" or "No" on WHITE GENOCIDE!"

        "We request the United States government will tofu curd official taste is sweet"

        "Life Over Fashion petition to stop killing and violence over sneakers, clothes & jewelry." (This is a petition to declare that it's wrong to kill someone for their shoes).

        "Amend the definition of “enemy combatant” or “enemy” (of our nation) to include a subcategory "Unconventional Enemy.""

        "Dismiss all charges against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and release him immediately and unconditionally" (BS false flag nonsense)

        "RELEASE DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV AND DROP ALL CHARGES WITHOUT PREJUDICE BASED ON LACK OF EVIDENCE AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS" ("Without prejudice" doesn't mean what you think it means).

    •  I think Ray agrees (10+ / 0-)

      Per Ray,  "But I scratch my head about this form of activism.  If the entire system of government is a putrid swamp of corruption, what good do these petitions do?  So okay, if any given petition is signed by 2 million people, and the petitions are submitted to The Powers That Be (sometimes with much fanfare in front of the White House), what has that accomplished?"
      I've signed those same petitions and most likely will continue to do so.  However, what I gather from Ray, he's is taking it to the next level.

      Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

      by Pinto Pony on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:07:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If Ray and I agree on anything, that's (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, emelyn, CroneWit

        practically a miracle. Petitions are a waste of time, but they may actually be worse than doing nothing. When people do nothing, they remain aware of that fact, and may be more inclined to actually do something if and when they get an opportunity. But people who've signed a petitions actually think they've done something, so are going to be that much less inclined to do anything more. There is just no way that petitions should be included on a list of "activist" activities. They are the opposite of active.

        •  It is a miracle indeed. n/t (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pinto Pony, Chi
        •  I have to disagree doc2 (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          3goldens, Avila, marina, BigAlinWashSt, Lujane

          There are times when you are only physically able to "sign petitions", and if that makes some folks feel they are engaging in the system, I'm also fine with that.  I've seen people waiting for hours in line to vote.  Those same people elected President Obama to the Presidency twice.  Some are in wheelchairs, some have to carry chairs to rest.  That's what makes us, we all do our part and none of our efforts are small IMO.

          Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.—Greg King

          by Pinto Pony on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:29:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  As typical with defenses of petitions, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi, emelyn

            you offer no real facts demonstrating their value. Making people feel good by signing them is not an argument supporting the contention that they have value in terms of producing change. I agree with you that petitions have a value in making people feel good that they've done something. The problem for me is that I know they haven't. It's a scam - a victimless scam, but a scam nevertheless.

            •  Personally, I gave up on petitions (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Free Jazz at High Noon, Lujane, Byrnt

              after some time of diligently signing them.  I quite responding to them once I came to the conclusion that (1) they were primarily donation requests, framed as 'take action' and (2) signing one petition gained me about 3-5 new petition-senders.

              Petition senders are also remarkably persistent.  After un-subscribing multiple times from several lists, only to find another 3-4 petitions/day, I began marking them as spam.

              Here's an idea I'l like people to think about, particularly in regard to communicating with Congress:  Why does no one use postcard campaigns?  Postcards are relatively cheap, and with no envelopes and it seems to me that they will reach offices sooner than enveloped letters (due to lower poisoning risks).  For particular campaigns, it would be easy to devise suggested (short) text, or even make logos available online.

              •  Petitions are what got marijuana legalization (6+ / 0-)

                on the state of Washington ballot and marijuana legalized (sort of).  Same with same sex marriage.  So yes, petitions do work, it depends on what kind, what issue and where at.  

                "I'm an antiwar propagandist as accused by democrats. Not even republicans have called me that."

                by BigAlinWashSt on Sat May 11, 2013 at 03:18:47 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That's the key right there. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  CroneWit
                  So yes, petitions do work, it depends on what kind, what issue and where at.  
                  There's a big difference between petitions that have legal power—i.e., a certain percentage of registered voters putting an initiative or the recall of an elected official on the ballot—and petitions that don't.

                  For petitions with legal power, the person signing the petition knows that if enough others sign the petition, the petition will go into effect: the initiative or recall must legally be put on the ballot.

                  For those without, the person signing the petition has absolutely no guarantee that the petition will have any effect whatsoever, and thus those who are trying to get people to sign have another rhetorical task: to convince potential signers that their signature will actually make a difference. Thus far, very few petition organizers have succeeded in that task, in my opinion.

                  "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

                  by JamesGG on Sun May 12, 2013 at 07:30:48 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Pete Seeger always says make a river of (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Pinto Pony, CroneWit

                postcards, and you will get heard. Just make a postcard river like he has done. I'm trying to do this for saving the post office. a small but dedicated effort and people do write and put their name and address.
                Byrnt

                •  Yes, POSTCARDS! (0+ / 0-)

                  I mentioned this in an earlier comment here.  And one thing I left out is -- EVERYBODY reads postcards, even the handlers at various stages.

                  Do you know if Pete expanded on his reasons for saying this?  A link would be cool.

      •  and when "those" petitions are targeting the wrong (9+ / 0-)

        people, it would seem to be a misdirected effort.

        for example, guantanamo - president obama tried to close it. congress prevented that from happening.

        why not swamp the members of congress that opposed the closing with petitions rather than the one person who is already on the side of the closure?

        beating up on one's friends and allies accomplishes little.

        i want to see massive attention paid to those who are actually blocking progress in this nation.

        even though all mail going to the congress gets screened, think of the impact if, on the same day, hundreds of thousands of letters went to individual republicans - the photo op of the mail delivery to boehner or cantor's office would be invaluable.

        email is invisible - petitions need to be hard printed and delivered to their targeted member of congress, imho.

        EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

        by edrie on Sat May 11, 2013 at 01:31:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Trayvon Martin (10+ / 0-)

      until almost a month after his death, we had never heard his name.  his parents went to Change.org and started a petition.

    •  So you think the StopRush petitions had... (10+ / 0-)

      ...no impact? The petitions regarding the freeing of  Laura Ling and Euna Lee? The defeat of Richard Pombo?

      Okay, I'm not going to flood you with more examples because it's pretty obvious that someone who thinks petitioning is just a scam isn't going to buy any evidence to the contrary.

      In my view, petitions are one portion of the political puzzle, just as are elections. Because even when we elect a majority of Democrats it doesn't change everything; in some arenas, not much of anything. But I am not hearing you say argue that elections should be abandoned as a scam.

      I'm not suggesting that you sign any petitions if you don't think they'll do any good. I'm saying that some petitions work and people who have actually seen them work—for private-sector effect or for local, state or federal government matters aren't wasting their time.

      The people who are wasting their time (and ours) are the ones who aren't doing anything because "nothing works."

      If Barack Obama decides to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, will you say that civil disobedience doesn't work?

      Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Sat May 11, 2013 at 02:13:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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