Petitioning the Government Doesn’t Guarantee Success

Read this before you sign another petition.

What makes a proper petition? And are they useful?

We Americans love our petitions, but too many don’t understand how they work.

A well-written petition, directed to the appropriate target, can be an important tool to create change, but it can’t stand alone.

Our Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees our right to “…petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. And Americans love to do just that. We see petitions everywhere: on street corners, at public events, shopping malls, in the mail, and especially online. They cover every sort of topic, at all points on the political spectrum. We present them to officials at every level from our local school boards to Congress and the president.

But because our schools can’t manage to produce educated citizens, too many Americans believe that merely signing a petition ensures success. It does not. The Bill of Rights says we can petition the government. It does not say that government officials must grant our wishes, no matter how many signatures we collect.

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