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The power of (useful) petitions

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As we hope you’ve all heard, Justin Bieber was arrested a couple of weeks ago for driving in a rented Lamborghini (not really important to the story, but an interesting factoid nonetheless) while intoxicated. The collective reaction from the event has been nothing short of a conflagration.

Bieber has been criticized (or praised) for his mug shot: he flashed a picture-perfect smile and a stylish up-do. He’s been criticized for his apparent failure as a role model for children and teens and he’s been blasted for his utter recklessness.

Most interesting, a petition on the White House website popped up after the arrest and has, as of Monday, Feb. 3, been signed over 240,000 times! This many people acting together for the common cause of seeing “the dangerous, reckless, destructive and drug- abusing Justin Bieber deported and his green card revoked.”

We’re not going to lie, while some of us are more supportive of the Biebz than others, we’re pretty impressed that 240,000 people can do anything construed as political activity together over so short a time.

Of course it’s not important that Justin Bieber will not be deported or denied reentry to the United States, based on two reasons. For one, his privilege as an international pop sensation, and that he generates revenue for days at American venues across the country means he ought not be so quickly kicked out.

Second, court precedent dictates that only under extremely rare cases does the criminal offense of driving under the influence warrant a deportation.

Despite our admiration for the folks who decided that America would be better Bieber-less, we can’t help but wish that Americans would put their political capacity to more useful ends. In fact, in five minutes, we thought of five better things that Americans could write petitions about.

1. Coming to a conclusion on immigration reform and the minimum wage talks this year.

2. Having an annual pool party for Congress and the President (taken out of their own pay) to increase bi-partisanship between these too polarized folks.

3. Make the NSA and other spy agencies’ actions more transparent to Americans.

4. Have American athletes make a stand for LGBT rights in Sochi this winter.

The sad part of this saga is that history tells us that when a big enough group comes together with a common cause, they can create positive change. In 2012, after unpopular budget cuts on Wisconsin state employees, Governor Scott Walker was forced to run in a recall election. While Walker eventually won the recall election, the collective action of enough Wisconsinites made a state Governor really sweat.

We the people have power, but it remains untapped when we use our political capital on Bieber’s deportation.

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