If you’re thinking of starting a We The People online petition to force the White House to respond to some nonsense like “building a Death Star” or “declaring the Sasquatch a threatened species” or “bringing our barbarian gun laws maybe halfway up to the basic standards of 21st Century civilization,” you will need more online friends to share your dream. As of now, White House petitions require 100,000 electronic signatures, which is a fourfold increase from the 25,000 required to make the Obama Administration do a cute response to the Death Star thing, even as the Obama Administration rains death from imperial robots upon the rebels (and random goat herders and young people getting married) of Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen.
Why the change? Because people have learned this is a reliable way to get the White House to make a funny, basically. When the petition system started just 15 months ago, the threshold for a response was 5,000. Petitions calling for the end of federal meddling in state medical-marijuana laws and less brutal treatment for Bradley Manning quickly hit 5,000 despite the Obama Administration’s hostility to those sentiments. But 25,000 wasn’t enough to keep the Death Star joke from the response trigger, and 100,000 won’t stop the Texans from demanding to secede on the Internet. By year’s end, it will probably be up to 250,000 or 500,000. Anything to stop you people from wanting an answer to everything.
And that’s how We The People went from a failed experiment in direct digital democracy to another online diversion for nerds and crackpots, in 15 months, the end.