Friday, September 2, 2011

We the (poker playing) People

When I first signed up for Twitter, I liked to scope out “Trends,” the #hashtagged list on the right side of the application's home page. I wasn't following many people at first and so trends were an easy way to drop in on conversations and find humor, 140-characters at a time.

Awards shows (#Oscars2011) and reality shows (#JerseyShore, #TheBachelor) often spark funny trends. Game days prove how obnoxious some fans can be (#GigEM!), and around the time #NeverSayNever came out, #Beliebers frequently crashed the system. #beiberfact 

Some trends are maddening. I hate the ones demeaning women, but they appear a lot. On August 11th, I noticed that five of the ten top trending topics in the US included the word “#hoes.” I admit, I lost my cool and had to go all Amos Lee on that chit. 

I don’t check out trends like I used to, but one caught my eye yesterday: #WeThePeople.

When I clicked on the link and read the initial blurb, I was skeptical. We the people sounds good. The words are familiar, unifying, and they begin the preamble to the United States Constitution, but.... 

As I looked at the information, I thought to myself, “We don’t need a freaking website to petition the government to hear our gripes – that right is protected in the First Amendment! I can do it any time I damn well please.” 

Anger aside, I checked out the links, watched the video, and researched Great Britain’s e-petition service upon which #WeThePeople may be loosely modeled.

The service hasn't yet launched, but here are the basics:

  • The system will allow we the people to create or sign e-petitions on a range of issues (whether citizens will be able to define their own issues or select from a predetermined list remains to be seen);
  • If within 30-days an e-petition gathers more than 5,000 signatures, it will receive official White House review and a response; and,
  • Once created within the system, the e-petition will have a unique URL known only to the initial petitioner, who can then share it with others to gain signatures. If it receives 150 signatures, the issue becomes "searchable" on the White House web site, likely leading to greater exposure and more signatures.

Many other things remain unclear. What exactly is official White House review and just what sort of "response" can petitioners expect? Will this be like the conversations I have with my daughter when she doesn't want to clean her room, "I can tell you're upset honey but the room's not going to clean itself and we have company coming over." In other words, no amount of whining is going to change the fact that she is cleaning her room.

Another issue is privacy. For now, all that's required to submit an e-petition is a valid email address

I can just see it:

Subject:  Just Say No to Legalizing DRUGZ!

That hypothetical is a joke, but in at least one country the use of e-petitions has resulted in some pretty silly (but telling) stuff. Americans are a funny lot and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to this launch.

That said, I question just what kind of official White House response we the people can expect. The truth is, the UK (the country from whom we've at least sampled this idea) dropped their initial version of e-petitions last year because Englanders used it to "embarrass Tony Blair and Gordon Brown."  

While they've since relaunched with some modifications, the sad fact remains that "official White House response," whatever that means, is not law and carries no real weight.  So whether you stand outside the White House with a placard and a megaphone or submit an e-petition and gather a million signatures, the net effect will likely be the same: “for the most part, petitions rarely lead to any concrete government action.”

But put aside your cynicism for a moment. Accept the fact that no concrete action will be taken and recognize that, at most, the government will issue an “official response” to whatever issues build enough support and gather the requisite signatures. Don't we the poker players owe it to ourselves to demand at least that much?

If the White House is going to spend the tax dollars to create, fund, and staff a system that will probably get thrown out under the next administration, we might as well avail ourselves of it before (and until) it’s put to pasture.

Clicking buttons is what we do. If an e-petition will help us get back to doing it (or at least keep focus on the issue, force an "official response" from the White House, and educate some people in the process), I'm all for gathering behind one unified petition that frames the federal online poker issue in ways most beneficial to we the poker playing people.

Bling Blang Blauow, people. It sounds like a plan that's right up our alley. #amirite?

So how do we do it? 
  • One person (@kevmath?) serves as the lead and submits the e-petition on behalf of all poker players;
  • The e-petition models those elements set out in the Barton Bill (and if that's not acceptable to all poker players, maybe @NoahSD or @ftrainpoker or @hardboiledpoker or @billrini or some other really smart person could come up with what needs to be included in the e-petition and post it on 2+2 for all to see);
  • All poker players (and their friends, families, co-workers and pets) commit to signing it; and,
  • Boom, we wait for our "official response."

Do we, or do we not, owe it to ourselves to at least demand that much? 

You tell me...



  1. Uh, I think YOU should lead the petition. You're a freakin lawyer's right up your alley.

  2. I certainly believe that it would benefit poker players to organize and lobby effectively. I think that the idea that this White House is on-board with any poker friendly legislation is absurd, regardless of how many people sign such a petition.

  3. Well maybe if it comes on board we could at least try, but I kind of think Laoch is right.


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