Wednesday, May 27, 2015

John Hancock Must Die

I've more or less given up singing my name to online petitions.  Unlike John Hancock, I don't care to sign my name to the point where the rich and the powerful can read it without their spectacles.
For several years, I've singed one online petition after another for various causes, such as preserving Social Security, tightening handgun restrictions, labeling genetically modified organisms in food, and having Republican governors investigated, among other losing causes.  I started signing petitions when George Walker Bush was President, and when Barack Obama was elected to succeed him, I  thought so many of the causes they were for would prevail soon enough. Heck, I expected fewer petition signature requests once Obama and a Democratic Congress were seated in 2009.  Then came the Tea Party, Citizens United, voter suppression, and racist policing.  I was pretty much disgusted with the system after the Republican wave in the 2010 midterm elections and even more so after the second GOP wave of 2014, but I kept signing petitions online and kept honoring requests to do so, even though I knew in my heart of hearts that little if any of all that would make any difference.  I also put up with requests for donations from the very organizations and Democratic office holders asking me to sign this or that, even though I didn't contribute any money, because I hoped against hope that some of their petitions might actually succeed in bringing about change.  In the meantime, I started an online petition on to get high-speed rail projects up and running, even though several of them nationwide were canceled never to be revived.
When the House Appropriations Committee voted to cut Amtrak funding after the Northeast Corridor derailment in Philadelphia earlier this month, though, I'd had enough.  I'd signed petitions for various causes and I'd started one for my own pet cause, and the vote to cut Amtrak funding at a time when the national passenger railroad system badly needed more money was the last straw.  It was the moment I realized that signing a petition for a cause is largely a waste . . . of . . . time.  More often than not, it's just a ploy to ask for money by the political party or for the activist group circulating the petition, and even these organizations must know their petitions are ineffective as a catalyst for change.  But as a fundraising device, however . . . The joke's on them. I haven't donated money to any cause for at least twenty years.    
And my petition for high-speed rail, which  I started in March 2014?  A petition needs at least fifty signatures to be taken seriously;  I've only gotten seven.  Seven!  Dude, I can't even break into double digits!  And all but one of these seven signatures were added in the same month I started the petition; the seventh is from this past January (January 2015).
So I'm pretty much through with petitions.  In the past two weeks, whenever I've gotten an e-mail from groups such as Bold Progressives or the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or whatever urging me to sign something (and, of course, make a donation), I've signed one last petition from them and then subsequently unsubscribed from their e-mailing lists.   There have been times when some of these groups forgot about sending me a petition signature request and simply asked for a donation.  I've glad to be free of them.  That includes Credo, the liberal cell-phone service company that sent me one petition request after another to fight the Kochs or stop Scott WalKKKer or this and that in a thinly disguised effort to sell me cellular telephone service.   The only petitions I sign anymore are the ones from, because that liberal group seems pretty sincere, and it's never asked me for money. But I no longer share petition signature requests from or from anyone else on Facebook.  I don't want to clutter up my Facebook timeline so much anymore.  As for my "unsubscription" from all these other groups, well, it's lessened the number of e-mails in my inbox considerably!  Now I can spend less time going through my e-mail and more time writing about all the things in this world that suck but can't be changed.  
So if you still think petitions, online or paper, make a difference, and if you want to sign my petition demanding high-speed rail in the United States, feel free to do so.  But, for the most part.  I've had it.  And also, you shouldn't waste your time asking Canada or Japan to stop killing seals or dolphins unless you actually live in one of those countries.  And maybe not even then.  Your name doesn't matter, and neither does mine. And don't be surprised if I decide to stop signing petitions as well.
John Hancock must die. 

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