We the People, the White House’s oft-beleaguered but still culturally relevant and surprisingly popular online petition site, just turned three. So, how’s it doing?
Pretty good, in terms of participation. The White House has just released the numbers and in three years, We the People has seen 363,908 total petitions, garnering 21,882,419 total signatures, from over 15 million total users.
The site receives 20,594 signatures a day on average.
“It’s three years later, and We the People remains incredibly popular: More than 15 million users have participated, collecting more than 22 million signatures on more than 360,000 petitions. To date, we’ve issued nearly 250 responses to petitions on a wide range of topics, including maintaining an open and innovative internet, reducing student loan debt, improving our economy, and even building a ‘Death Star,'” says White House Deputy Director of Email and Petitions Ezra Mechaber.
“The We the People platform has led directly to policy changes and provided new opportunities for dialogue between citizens and their government. That’s part of the reason why, over the course of 2014, an average of response surveys showed a majority of signers thought it was ‘helpful to hear the Administration’s response,’ even if they didn’t agree. Nearly 80 percent said they would use We the People again.”
But as I’ve said before, the problem with We the People has never been interest. The main problems with the White House’s online petition site have always been joke petitions (which are often funny, but in the end undermine any attempt to enact any meaningful change via this medium) and the administration’s tendency to just ignore a bunch of petitions.
As of right now, there are 28 petitions that have hit their signature threshold that have yet to receive an official White House response.
Still, the White House has issued almost 250 responses, and at least a couple have had far-reaching effects – most notably the one that kickstarted the cellphone unlocking movement.
In the end, however, it’s hard to look at We the People as an agent of change. It is a place to at least have some sort of dialogue with the White House, as well as try (and fail) to finally get Justin Bieber deported. You’re silly and ultimately worthless, We the People, but we still love you.
Image via Wikimedia Commons