Tag Archives: Faithless Electors

Online Petitions (as Pennies in a Wishing Well)

“Everything that is beautiful and noble is a product of reason and calculation.” -Charles Baudelaire

St Paul, MN- In my opinion, petitioning everything we find disagreeable on the internet, that takes place in the United States of America, is like posting a new status on Facebook, or any other social media platform, it becomes useless.  To me, this action does very little, because those forums are monitored and controlled, like throwing a penny into a wishing well–it takes the intention out of the actor’s perception, it takes the accountability out of the petitioner’s (wisher’s) hands and puts the issue in a free fall of liquidity, placing the issue on something larger and misunderstood.  I guess I miss the reason, intention, and calculation of speaking to deaf ears.

Petitioning so visibly against matters on social media creates the same sort of sentiment that one sees when one throws a penny into a wishing well. The shiny object, the cent, goes away from our observation and into certain darkness.  The viewer of this spectacle finds that the actor in this setting has hope, has promise, has a wish with meaning. The penny falls and that is that. There is that nugget of hope left at the bottom of a wishing well. Accordingly, the petition is sent out, put forth, and left on the interwebs away from those with the ability to make change, and there it sits.  (I will attest that these petitions seem a spectacle for the mainstream media to make pennies off of as well, generating a story, while stoking a teasing interest.)

In relation to this metaphor, I aver we do something different for change, instead of a spectacle for others, we create a spectacle for ourselves.  Instead of casting a penny away, as an idea, or as a concern for a concept by writing or signing a petition, that may or may not get seen by eyes with authority and the ability to create change, one must, perhaps, write legislature, or run for office themselves; make the change they desire by becoming this change. Create the change you want by following your wishes or petitions to the top, to the office you aspire to. So often ideas become clouded by group-think and the initial principal becomes diluted, creating very little change.  With an individual seeing this principal through to fruition, those outside forces may be hampered.

The real matter at hand with petitions and pennies, perhaps, may be the level of accountability the person doing the signing, or throwing, or writing cares to do and be responsible for. We sign things all the time, this act is commonplace autonomous. I sign for coffee, I sign for sandwiches, I sign for others, I sign for packages, and I sign for beer. You do too!  How is this any different in a serious way, signing for something that is entirely important or unimportant to me? (Is changing the system important to you?  And how important?)  I find in order for change it must be a step above that kind of signing, a bit more convoluted, this giving up autonomy and comfort for belief.

Signing a petition on the internet for something you believe wholeheartedly may feel good.  You may feel you have done your part, but what part? Does this signing lack fervor though?  And how much will that well-meant signature do? To make change there must be the same amount of initiative or action or motivation as in the thought that caused it. Putting a status update on social media takes a few clicks, signing your signature is a swipe of the wrist–conditioning at this point–perhaps, neither of these actions are revolutionary (singularly alone). With them, there is only a wish and an idea thrown away, as the penny in the wishing well.  So how important is your status update or your signature for petitioning change in comparison to every other one placed in a universe of texts and signatures?

***

On the video at the top of this essay, and the “Faithless Elector” movement (I didn’t watch it, the thumbnail was nice.  So I used it.) Further, we knew about the electoral college and how it worked many years ago, perhaps it is as old as the American republic.  I will cite, as John C. Dvorak of the No Agenda Podcast pointed out, where some of the inspiration for my piece comes, and I paraphrase–I hope I do justice, change the system, change the law!  Again, I paraphrase, but the gist is there.  Change the way we do things, the system, and change the law.  Hear more from him at No Agenda Podcast.  And if you perceive me wrong, I guess I am witnessing the forest for the trees, I am missing their timber.  Change may take more effort than an online trend, spectacle, or people holding well-made signs.