Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lobbying President Obama Just Got Easier: White House Will Launch New Petition Page

'We the People' petition tool "is all about giving Americans a direct line to the White House," President says...and terrific for driving traffic to the White House website...
Food and agriculture advocates seem specially fond of petitioning President Obama and his Administration, so perhaps it's time to rejoice: The White House today announced that it will soon be launching We the People, a special petition page on the White House website to make it "easy" for citizens to get a response to their pet causes in three steps. In an e-mail, Senior Advisor David Plouffe explained the process for creating an account to lodge formal complaints, and promised that Administration officials will be issuing "official responses" to petitions that get at least 5,000 signatures within 30 days. It should be a snap for America's very busy food and agriculture advocates to reach that baseline. (Above: The three steps, graphically explained)

"President Obama will even answer a few himself," Plouffe promised.

“When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens. That’s what the new We the People feature on is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them,” President Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

The White House is framing the project as an extension of the rights guaranteed to Americans at the Founding of our democracy, tweaked for the internet age. But it's also a savvy way to drive traffic to the White House website, where Administration officials routinely have posts debunking unsavory GOP criticism of President Obama. The White House is advising users to share their petitions on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, which will drive even more traffic to the website. Plouffe suggested forwarding his e-mail about the project to ten interested friends. Over the summer, the opening page for started asking visitors to log their e-mail addresses.

"While this is a big change for the White House's website, the idea is actually written into our founding documents," Plouffe said. "Throughout our history, Americans have used petitions to organize around issues they care about."

A video about We the People:

"The We the People platform on gives Americans a new way to create, share, and sign petitions that communicate your views about your government's actions and policies," reads the new web page on

The project also comes after environmentalists have been sitting in front of the White House for almost two weeks, outraged over the plans for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. Actress Daryl Hannah was among those arrested on Tuesday for refusing to leave. Protests in front of the White House occur on a daily basis, but this is one of the longest for 2011.

*Photo at top is the President with labor leaders in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, by Chuck Kennedy/White House

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