Friday, December 11, 2009

Q. of the Day

Do petitions to the government really make a difference?


  1. Unless combined with other actions, they are rarely effective.

    For example, currently here in upstate New York we're fighting the expansion of natural gas drilling along the northern fringe of the Marcellus Shale. A few petitions have been launched, including one to the governor, but what has really made the most impact has been people going to public meetings and telling DEC officials and others directly about the problems drilling will create. I think even 10,000 people signing an e-petition (which is the goal for the one going to the Governor) can be easily dismissed. You need other actions to both follow up and to demonstrate people's resolve.

  2. Not really, especially internet petitions. But letter writing and phone campaigns can be very effective.

  3. Unlike Chalicechick, I understand that Internet petitions can be effective, if spearheaded by an organization with good Hill office contacts and can match (by zip code, say) petitioners with a particular representative.

  4. "a post"

    Sigh. Why is it that the typos only appear after you push the publish button?

  5. Jim, I like the rule of your blog a lot. And, yeah, the god of typos is an evil mofo.

  6. The kinds of petitions that lead to ballot proposals have an enormous effect. Not that this is always a good effect, of course. I could have done without the assorted bans on gay marriage.

    Letter writing campaigns and live protests can have an effect, but you need to make sure people are actually paying attention. If the government can ignore it, the government will ignore it.

    E-petitions just come across as background noise.