One Obama legacy Donald Trump hasn’t mentioned dismantling — yet — is We the People. And since he pledged to give power “back to you, the people” in his inauguration, I hope he has no plans to.
The website was created in 2011 as a way for Americans to directly petition the White House about any issue and get a guaranteed official response if enough people cared about it.
The catch: 100,000 people have to sign the petition within 30 days. It’s rare for any to meet that mark. Out of roughly half a million petitions during the Obama administration, just over 300 collected the required signatures. (More fun stats were compiled by Pew.) And when they did, the response was usually along the lines of: “Sorry, that’s more complicated than you think and we can’t.”
One notable exception was an organized petition to allow consumers to legally unlock their cell phones for use on any wireless carrier, which led to an actual law. Sometimes silly petitions forced responses, too. One to “secure resources and funding and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016” got the White House to admit, in a creative response, “the administration does not support blowing up planets” and would like to reduce the deficit.
As a “president of the people,” Trump has a unique opportunity to put his golden stamp on We The People. And fortunately, as he comes up on 30 days in office, there are already a few petitions with the required signatures…
Definitely getting a response
Of course, the ones with the most signatures are the most political.
At the top, a demand for Trump’s full tax returns: “The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.” Nearly one million people have signed, giving lie to the administration’s statement that only the media cares about his taxes.
Also related to the emoluments clause is a petition to sell off or place in a blind trust all of Trump’s assets. That has over 312,000 signatures. And then there’s one with 125,000 that demands both Trump’s tax returns and his resignation.
Two separate petitions with nearly 300,000 signatures between them ask for Trump to change his mind about defunding the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, which represent about 0.004 percent of the federal budget.
It’s not just liberals putting in their demands, though. There’s also a petition with 180,000 signatures to repeal the National Firearms Act of 1934, which regulates machine guns, silencers, and sawed-off shotguns.
Of course there’s a hopeless petition to just keep Obamacare: “President Trump, please veto any changes short of the single-payer, Canadian-style system that you promised Americans while running for President.” Another, with fewer than 200 signatures, begs Trump to put in place “a plan that helps ALL Americans” before repealing it.
Another begs Trump to keep just one “life or death” part of Obamacare: protections for people with pre-existing conditions. “We all know someone this will affect. We all get sick. We should all care,” it says.
Outside of Obamacare, one petition seeks action on health-related identity theft by restricting the outsourcing of health information management jobs It has less than 1,000 signatures, but more than most.
Another no-shot petition cries out for a federal “Casey’s Law” to fight addiction: “The law, recently passed in Kentucky and Ohio, allows families to petition the court to get treatment for a loved one who has refused to get help on their own. Addicts often refuse help, spiraling out of control until it is too late. That is what happened to Charlotte Wethington’s son, Casey. He died of a heroin overdose. Charlotte felt had she been able to get Casey court ordered treatment, he’d still be here.”
Then there’s one that calls Lyme disase “a crime against Humanity” and asks for investigations of the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration for some reason. Which brings us to…
The crazy ones
Make Money Great Again, nearly 800 people have demanded. Allow gold and silver to be freely used as money in the U.S. and “cease all tax discrimination” against them. The petition even has its own campaign website with a pre-written executive order Trump can sign. (Something I hear he’s good at.)
“Praise the God Emperor Trump” and “divert $10 million to Disney in order to continue the funding of Club Penguin.” 170 signatures. Meanwhile…
Worthy but neglected
I went through every petition filed since the start of the Trump administration, and this one from “T.F.” hit me hardest:
After some digging, I found out this is a fresh version of Tim Foster’s petition on Change.org. The new version has just 5,131 signatures as I write this, and its deadline is Feb. 20. (That means Foster put it up the day Trump was inaugurated.) But the original petition on Change.org has an additional 54,000 signatures.
Military Times wrote about this issue in 2015; Congress hasn’t fixed it. Veterans are still forced to repay benefits they received for leaving service, voluntarily or not, if they want disability support. Those separation benefits can be in the tens of thousands, and it’s incredibly difficult for veterans to appeal to the VA.
This should be an easy bipartisan fix and one Trump should act on today, even if the petition doesn’t reach the threshold for a response.