“If a petition gathers enough online signatures, it will be reviewed by policy experts and you’ll receive an official response.”
– Katelyn Sabochik, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Digital Strategy, September 22 2011
This is the important promise made by “We The People”, the official online petition website of Obama administration. From a public relations standpoint, the promise is gold; in an age when government agents listen in on our conversations while dissidents get shoved into fenced-in “free speech zones” miles away from our leaders, the potential for the Obama administration to read and respond to the words of us little people is charming, inspiring even. It suggests the promise of an inclusive political future.
But as I wrote on July 28, the Obama administration bypassed its own inclusive hype this year, refusing to provide an answer to five hugely popular petitions, despite the fact that these five petitions had met the Obama administration’s official threshold. They are:
Nearly three months later, the Obama administration has only responded to two of these petitions. Petition #1 on military discrimination against non-religious people was not answered for two years. Petition #3, the petition on Malaysia, is the other answered petition. President Barack Obama and his staff continue to ignore the other three petitions, letting them languish unanswered month after month. Petition #2 has gone unanswered for 2 years and 1 month. Petitions #4 and #5 have gone unanswered for five months.
Barack Obama made time for a late-summer vacation to the exclusive Martha’s Vineyard this year. This upcoming Friday, Barack Obama is making time to head to the Big Apple for a big fundraiser on behalf of party loyalists. Barack Obama won’t make the time to answer petitions signed by hundreds of thousands of Americans. Promises be darned; there are priorities to attend to.