White House staffers have now reportedly come around to the fact that their petition website is just one big, dumb waste of time.
The “We The People” website, which allows everyday Americans to pester the Obama administration with nonsensical petitions calling for secession or the construction of a Star Wars-inspired orbital death cannon, now requires petitions to carry at least 100,000 signatures before they receive an official White House response.
Previously, petitions only required 25,000 signatures — a threshold met by aforementioned Death Star idea, which the White House batted away with a tongue-in-cheek response.
“If you had told me a year and a half ago that the White House would be devoting time writing [an official statement] on how Lord Vader could fix our economic woes, I would have just laughed loudly at you,” one White House staffer, who had worked on the WTP program, told Mother Jones. (RELATED: Top 10 ridiculous ‘We The People petitions, part 1)
“Sometimes, I find myself thinking, ‘My God, what have we done?’” said another.
The WTP program is the brainchild of Macon Phillips, the head of the White House office of digital strategy, according to Mother Jones. Although senior staffers were reportedly wary of the idea, it was set up with the blessing of top Obama deputy David Plouffe, an early champion of the project. It has collected nearly 10 million total signatures since it was launched.
Petitions on the WTP website run the gamut from a demand that the U.S. government admit its knowledge of extraterrestrial life to one that asks that the White House take the petitions more seriously.
“The White House saw the project as yet another avenue for digital civic engagement and as well-meaning outreach — a nice gesture, at the very least,” Mother Jones’ Asawin Suebsaeng reports. “What they did not foresee at the time of the launch was the extent to which the site would be co-opted for epic quantities of taxpayer-funded trolling.”
But despite obvious and largely foreseeable problems with the project, at least one unnamed White House staffer the magazine was willing to offer a partial defense of WTP.
“For the most part, it’s a good public service,” the staffer said. “And, hey — isn’t it nice to show people once in a while that you don’t lose all sense of humor just because you start working for The Man?”