Over the past five years, Americans have produced and signed nearly 5,000 petitions through the White House’s “We the People” site. How could we ever forget the effort to get the Obama administration on board with building a Death Star ? Some, like that one and a petition to deport Justin Bieber, resulted only in conversation. But others made an impact.
The Pew Research Center analyzed the petitions in a recent report . They ranged from serious, like an effort to ban gay conversion therapy at a state level that led the president in 2015 to support states’ bans, to playful. A request for Obama to appear on a previously unvisited talk show, for example, prompted him to appear on “Real Time with Bill Maher” in January 2016.
In 2015, 106-year-old Virginia McLaurin requested a meeting with the first black president, something she never thought she’d live to see. Her petition garnered only 19 signatures. But it nonetheless resulted in one of first couple’s most memorable meetings, this dance party:
The petitioning system, launched in 2011, was part of Obama’s open-government initiative. The most common topics for petitioning included healthcare, veterans issues and requests to honor individuals, such as Yogi Berra, and create or officially recognize holidays, like Talk Like a Pirate Day.
While not every petition made a change or elicited a response from the White House, many captured a momentary pulse of the nation.
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