Monday, March 14, 2016

Sign This Petition

There's a thing, Slacktivism. People sign online petitions or forward things on social media and they may feel good for a moment, thinking they've done something. Nothing gets done and the possibility for things getting done gets further away because the things required to get things done -- attending meetings, marching, handing out leaflets, developing personal relationships with like minded people -- don't get done.

If you're on a politician's email list you probably receive, besides emails asking for money, emails that ask you to sign a petition. I get a lot of these from Michelle Grisham and Martin Heinrich and occasionally from Tom Udall. I've never gotten anything that says what they intend to do with the petitions. I've never read anything about the petitions being delivered to anyone, let alone if they had any affect. I suspected that at some point the "signatures" of anyone who signs the petitions are deleted with the click of a mouse.

I found this article from Minnesota Public Radio that explains why they send you those petitions. They want data on you. They want to know what kind of donor you might be, whether they can hit you up in the future, etc. The petitions are for their own internal purposes. Candidates who are full time politicians now hire out some of their fundraising and they have fundraising staff, so the candidate may be vaguely aware of the petitions, or of the cynicism things like that breed, or of how they prevent change from taking place. Or maybe they are.

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