When The People Speak, Is Anyone Listening?

Joseph Marks | Nextgov | February 5, 2013

The White House’s online petition website We the People showcased both unity and division as 2012 came to a close. Division came first. In the weeks after President Obama’s reelection in November 2012, citizens from all 50 states took to the site to demand permission to secede from the union. Unity followed in December when 200,000 people signed a petition to urge stricter gun control laws in just five days following the deadly shooting of 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

A separate petition asking the president to designate the Westboro Baptist Church, which pledged to picket the funerals of Sandy Hook victims, as a hate group garnered more than 300,000 signatures, setting a new record for a We the People petition. This schizophrenia is nothing new for We the People, which has played many roles during its 18-month life span...