The Petition Archives collects, geocodes, publishes, and preserves personal email petitions targeted at public figures, including government officials, corporate executives, and media personalities. Instead of sending a private email to a public figure, the Petition Archives allows you to send a public email, one that is published and digitally preserved on our website. The Petition Archives allows you to search and review these petitions by location, keyword, and issue.
We need to collect, publish, and preserve petitions because petitions are at the heart of democracy. The most basic principle of democracy is that every person has the right to an equal share of political power, as well as the obligation to share political power equally. Without petitions, we cannot begin to share political power equally. Petitions are the material expressions of personal grievances. From personal emails to handwritten letters to protest videos to pleading voicemail messages, petitions are the media that call for a sharing of political power. Without this means of communication, we cannot begin to share political power. And so democracy requires petitions.
To live democratically, we must recognize that every person has the right and obligation to petition those with power for the redress of grievances. Unfortunately, most people have a very difficult time petitioning the public figures who control their lives.
For example, Americans have a very difficult time petitioning Congress. Few members of Congress provide an email address for their constituents. And for those few that do provide a public email address, the communication protocol follows a familiar divide-and-conquer strategy, where the petitioners send their grievances individually via private email and the Congressional staff reply with boilerplate emails and pacifying apologies.
The Petition Archives intends to open up the political correspondence between us and those that represent us in government, business, and the media. By archiving petitions, we will be able to research and review the most pressing public opinions in a personal context. We will be able to document the individual voices in their struggle for collective recognition. Presiding over the entire petitioning process is the basic question, "How do you make those with power care about you?"
To help make those with power care about you, The Petition Archives publishes and preserves your personal email petitions. People often forget that personal emails can count as petitions. For example, a personal email that contains a complaint from a constituent to his or her Congressperson is a personal email petition. While personal emails may only have a single signature, a single signature can still count if it publishes some relevant personal information. The Petition Archives allows you to reframe your email petitions with your personal identity. You are not some anonymous voice, but a person with a particular name, gender, ethnicity, age, religion, home location, and grievance. You decide how much personal information you want to publish in order to persuade public figures that you are politically relevant.
While the theory of petitioning is very complex, our petitioning process is very simple:
- You write a personal petition to a public figure on our website.
- We publish and preserve your petition on our website.
- We email the targeted public figure a link to your petition.
- The targeted public figure returns to our website and responds to your petition.
- We publish and preserve their response to your petition on our website.
- We notify you that the public figure responded to your petition.
Will Riley created The Petition Archives.