The Obama White House unveiled its new public-petition website “We The People” on thursday, as a way to “take action on a range of important issues facing our country.” And in the project’s first 30 lackluster minutes, pro-cannabis and animal rights petitions attracted the most support
Macon Phillips, White House Director of New Media tweeted, “Thrilled to launch
#WeThePeople today. It’s your voice in our government, so what are you waiting for?” The website promises an administration response to petitions that attract more than 5,000 responses in 30 days.
It took only a half-hour for the first two petitions to collect 150 signatures, the level required to be searchable in the White House’s petition database. One asks the president to legalize and regulate cannabis. the other is a PETA-sponsored initiative to require the sterilization of pet dogs and cats.
By 2:30 p.m. EDT Thursday, the marijuana measure had more than 1,700 signatures. The pet spay/neuter proposal had more than 700. And a third petition, calling for a new federal investigation into the prosecution of former kosher meatpacking magnate Sholom Rubashkin, was nearing 200.
Rubashkin was sentenced to 27 years in prison in 2010 for financial fraud. His Iowa meat processing plant was the site of a 2008 immigration raid that netted the arrests of 389 illegal immigrants, including 31 minor children. An orthodox Jewish group supportive of Rubashkin submitted the petition. It says 45 members of Congress have already asked the federal government to re-open his case.
Aside from those three petitions and some early buzz on Twitter, the launch appeared to lack enthusiasm.
The conspicuous lack of petitions other than the few early qualifiers could be a technical glitch, or it may have something to do with the site’s registration requirements.
In order to begin circulating a petition, users must first create a WhiteHouse.gov account. This requires providing the Obama administration with your name, email address and hometown. The White House also provides an option to receive email updates from President Obama himself, although the White House would be in violation of federal campaign laws if it used the resulting list for re-election campaign purposes.