Can someone explain the fascination with petitions, please?
posted at 7:16 pm on January 10, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Because, frankly, I have never grasped it. Even in high school, we’d have people insisting that signing petitions would change administration policy if only enough people signed them! All it took was a few hundred John Hancocks in a school of around 2,000 students, and Utopia would soon arrive in whatever form these junior activists envisioned it at the moment. Of course, it was nonsense, and the school made it pretty clear that the administration took a dim view of the practice anyway. The adults ran the school, and even back then the amount of influence wielded by parents was minimal, and students non-existent.
At least, though, the scale was rational. A couple of hundred students in a school of 2,000 or so equals 10%, a decent level of vox populi for the demand for a real cafeteria or an open campus, or whatever the cause du jour happened to be. Now we have constant stories about petitions at the White House suddenly becoming significant at 25,000, and big stories at 100,000. Why? In November, somewhere north of 125 million people cast ballots in the election. Even 250,000 signatures on a petition would amount to 0.2% of the electorate, which is less than a rounding error in elections and way below the margin of error in polling.
About the only thing this signifies is that 250,000 people got exercised just enough to “sign” an online petition, but not enough to actually do anything meaningful. Or am I missing something?