That online petition: color me unimpressed

One of the lesser products of our gubernatorial overtime period is an online petition seeking the election of Scott Milne by the Vermont Legislature. The petition was organized by persons unknown of the conservative persuasion (see below) and posted — ironically — through the petition posting service on MoveOn.org, an organization seeking to promote “progressive political change.”

Anyone can use its service, and that’s where our persons unknown have put up their petition. In spite of the distinctly liberal company they’re keeping.

I say “persons unknown” because the petitioner is identified only as C.A.C.M. I don’t recognize the acronym, and MoveOn doesn’t provide any further information. (Any relation to t.A.T.u.?) MoveOn does offer the opportunity to send an email to C.A.C.M., and I did so on Monday, asking them to identify themselves.

Haven’t gotten an answer. Somehow, I don’t think I will. Need I comment on the irony in a movement claiming to represent the voice of the people hiding behind an obscure acronym?

(If I hear from someone at C.A.C.M., I’ll be happy to strike the above comment and report on its identity.)

The petition has drawn a bit of attention in the media, first from VPR and today from VTDigger. Both stories refer to the petition having been signed by “thousands.”

That’s technically true; as of 7 p.m. on November 11, there were 3,152 electronic signatures. When VPR posted its story last Friday, the total was about 2,500. But while “thousands” is correct on the bare fact, I’d argue that it’s misleading. When I see “thousands,” I think a lot more than two or three thousand. To say “thousands” in the headline gives the petition drive a bit too much credit.

Even by the diminutive standards of the Vermont electorate, 3,000 isn’t really an overwhelming response. And to judge by the comments appended by signers, the petition’s appeal is obviously to the dead-ender, hard-core anti-Shumlin part of the electorate. There’s no reason that this petition should have any effect whatsoever on the process going forward.

One more thing. In order to sign the petition, you have to provide your name, email address, and physical address. The small print below the petition box says:

By signing, you agree to receive email messages from MoveOn.org Civic Action and MoveOn.org Political Action. You may unsubscribe at any time.

So all these disgruntled conservatives are handing over their contact information to one of our country’s leading progressive groups. I hope they’re ready for the progressive email messages they’re about to start receiving.

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