Tag Archives: activism

Petitions are a dime a dozen

Petitions…Effective? Yes, and No…Depends Upon What You're After…

petitionsThere are petitions as far as the eye can see these days. At least floating around the community of the “Silent No More”.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t receive some kind of petition appeal from some online group I belong to or have one forwarded to me via email.

I used to think that petitions were a good idea. After all, some of the very people I thought were actually trying to do something in their endeavors were conducting drives for them.

And, as noted there has been a recent blizzard of one kind or another.

The question: Are petitions effective?

The answer: For the most part, yes, if you are attempting to build a database of contact information.

But one answer is really a question. How many different kinds of petitions have there been throughout history? Answer: Skads, and here we are. (Where is here? As a country, in big trouble!)

The only petitions truly worth doing, aren’t really petitions at all. They are actually called ballot initiatives, those measures that actually get something (or someone, a candidate) put on a ballot. These measure have real teeth.

All of the rest are data gathering, list-building measures, that are very often used to solicit funds later.

online-petitionsThe best explanation for the purpose of petitions which I can summon is one of those prize drawings, like at a home show expo. or a grocery store. Businesses don’t do these drawings out of the goodness of their hearts.

And neither do political organizations.

Prize drawings and petitions have the same general purpose: to obtain contact information of interested parties and market to them. Garage door companies at a home show expo. market garage doors, political organizations appeal for funds, push their agenda, and often, put forward candidates.

Often, use of data goes beyond the obvious.  Many organizations (as in 501cs) who use petition drives for list building, will automatically add signers’ names to their member data base. The number of members is often quoted by such groups when they are pushing their agenda. In other words, Group X says to Senator Slick , ” We have 10,000 members who are behind us on this bill, or that bill.” A good chunk of those “members” may not necessarily agree with the particular measure Group X is supporting (or opposing).

So, there are clearly some obvious problems with petitions pushed by many groups and organizations.

But what about when genuinely passionate citizens wanting to do a petition drive to either effect some action that is to be taken or send a message to a politician? They are clearly not out to use a list for their own agenda. They really are trying to do something good.

This well-intentioned attempt to have an impact, when it involves turning over a petition to “the opposition”, though,  can have some undesirable effects. The opposing group now has an entire list of names at its disposal…to do with it as it sees fit.

In the information age, where amassing databases seems to be the gold standard, petitions potentially do nothing more than provide someone with just that, ready made. Those who understand the problems with petitions should not perpetuate the notion that they are a good idea, and so should avoid encouraging the practice of carrying them out.

In the very rare cases where a petition of a symbolic nature (not a ballot measure) seems important,  it’s necessary to proceed with caution. After signatures are collected, the results should be reported to the target, without actually handing over the petitions themselves. An opportunity of supervised examination by the the target or his representatives should be offered. This way, the point can be made, which is a number of citizens are thinking alike on a certain issue, without handing over the contact information.

But again, this should only be done rarely.

Today's Fact: Some Truths are Timeless

You know a notion is sound when it rings true in current times as much as when originally articulated.

Excellent examples abound:

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”  – Margaret Thatcher

“The more the plans fail, the more the planners plan.”  – Ronald Reagan

“Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.”  – Benjamin Franklin

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”   – Thomas Jefferson

That being said, the piece below, rings very true although it was written in 2002. I have left the original formatting to keep the “flavor” of the piece.

RECENT “MARCHES ON WASHINGTON.”

by Dick Bachert, long-time grassroots activist
These “Show Biz on the Mall” events are generally a HUGE WASTE OF TIME AND RESOURCES. The only folks who benefit from them are the airlines, restaurants and motel owners.

I think folks could save some dough and time by doing more LOCALLY. When you go to DC, you’re on THEIR turf and in THEIR comfort zone and THEY find it far to easy to smile and nod while thinking “Why don’t you BOZOS go to hell.”

Galvanize the CONSTITUTIONAL/CONSERVATIVE ACTIVISTS in their states to GET BUSY organizing their like-minded fellows and SQUEEZE these guys so hard they CHANGE THEIR POSITIONS OR GET INVOLUNTARILY RETIRED (TO CUSHY JOBS WITH THE VERY LOBBYING FIRMS THEY HAVE SO ABLY REPRESENTED WHILE ON THE PUBLIC PAYROLL). Ever notice how so few of these guys ever return to their HOME STATES once out of office? Ever wonder why? Can you say “7 figure sinecure?”

Look, this is a LONG-TERM proposition — and, in terms of cleaning up the national legislature, many of us are late to the party, many of us having come ONLY for the Fair Tax. And while that IS as good a reason as any, ridding this nation of the CRAPPY, ABUSIVE MARXIST INCOME is simply TREATING A SYMPTOM OF THE DISEASE. We ALL need to get busy in our HOME STATES and CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS, exerting every effort to let all who will hear and are intelligent enough to understand the words of one Joseph D’Maestre that “People get the government they deserve.” We should thank God daily that we’re not getting all we’re paying for –YET!

A number of years ago, a 15 year-old newspaper delivery boy in the midwest delivered 12,000 legislative report cards to his congressional district informing the constituents of a really lousy congress critter exactly how the guy was voting in Washington (which was — surprise, surprise — completely OPPOSITE the votes this guy and his handmaidens in the media were reporting)..This kid delivered 12,000 of these things for 4 quarters (one year) — ON A BIKE!!!!!! The heat on the congress critter was so intense that a decent challanger arose and TOOK HIM OUT THE NEXT ELECTION!!!!!

And I have a PERSONAL story in that arena:

Around 6 am on dark morning in the early 80s, 4 of us piled into a car in Atlanta with a few hundred TRIM bulletins and other fact-packed flyers detailing how then Georgia Representative Ed Jenkins and Senator Sam Nunn were voting on issues important to all citizens. Our destination was Hartwell, Georgia and an “Eggs and Issues Breakfast” hosted by a large Hartwell church.

We arrived at the church about an hour early and deployed. As folks arrived for the buffet line, each was handed some of this highly informative literature. As they waited in line, they read and chatted as new information came to their attention. Just before the invited dignitaries were to make their 20 minute speeches (aka, pitches for re-election), we made certain a supply of these flyers made it to the head table. Ed and Sam ate precious little of the fine southern breakfast cuisine before them as they periodically glanced menacingly at the table we occupied. In unison, the 4 of us smiled sweetly and waved.

When Ed and Sam each rose to speak, each devoted 16 or 17 minutes of the allotted 20 minutes TRYING TO DEFEND their DOCUMENTED VOTING RECORDS to an increasingly hostile gathering as we returned Ed and Sam’s constant withering glares with more sweet smiles and waves. It was truly one of the highlights of my early years as a political bomb-thrower. YOU should try it!

After a bit more bomb-throwing in other parts of his district, Ed Jenkins was defeated in the next election. Because he ran state-wide and we lacked the resources and manpower to cover the entire state (and he did begin to clean up his act) Sam hung on for another term or two. (And those 2 year House terms — where the power to tax and spend repose — is where the effort must be concentrated.

Friends, THIS IS WHAT IT TAKES: DOGGED PERSISTENT EFFORT OVER TIME. It’s the only acceptable way a system such as ours can be made to operate in any meaningful way.
MAYBE IT’S TIME WE “OUTED” EVERY — AND I DO MEAN EVERY — MEMBER OF CONGRESS WITH A “FAIR TAX REPORT” AND LET THE CHIPS FALL WHERE THEY MAY. DOCUMENT EVERY TAX AND SPEND VOTE LINKED TO EVERY ATTEMPT BY FRIEND AND FOE ALIKE TO REWARD FRIENDS AND PUNISH ENEMIES WITH THE CURRENT TAX CODE. IT MIGHT DISCLOSE THOSE OSTENSIBLE “FRIENDS OF THE FAIR TAX” WHO, WHILE CLOAKING THEMSELVES IN THE FAIR TAX RHETORIC, DO, IN FACT, CLING TO THE OLD SYSTEM AS THEY RECOGNIZE IT REALLY IS THE BASIS OF MOST OF THEIR POWER OVER THE REST OF US. AND, IF THAT IS THE CASE, THESE ARE THE GUYS WHO WILL EITHER FOLD LIKE A CHEAP SUITCASE WHEN THE FAT HITS THE FIRE OR EVEN WORK AGAINST US BEHIND THE SCENES. THAT’S A PROVEN TECHNIQUE IN OLD MALFUNCTION JUNCTION.
Perhaps these guys will start to pay attention to our DEMAND if we can demonstrate that ignoring us has SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
(Note: I don’t personally support The Fair Tax, but these are excellent)