In another small, telling step away from pesky participatory democracy – and a predecessor who kinda actually seemed to believe in it – the cabal of Dear Narcissist just “temporarily” shut down the White House We the People petition site, which is ostensibly scheduled for relaunch in January. Created in 2011, the platform allowed the clamoring masses a chance to speak up and seek change – and at least get a guaranteed, albeit often slow response from the Obama White House if they had gathered at least 100,000 signatures. Over its lifetime, the petition site saw its share of oddball requests – to ban the song “Meet the Flockers,” explain why American can’t build a Death Star, deport Justin Bieber, which we can totally get behind – but it also sought to pardon Edward Snowden and address police brutality.
We the People technically survived other Trump White House website abuses, like disappearing climate change and LGBT rights, but it was essentially comatose: After 11 months – we know, it feels like years – Trump had yet to respond to any of 17 petitions meeting the 100,000 mark. Most notable was a record-breaking call from over a million people for the release of Trump’s taxes; the next largest urged him to put his assets in a blind trust. Others sought to preserve or end funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, declare George Soros a domestic terrorist, and let U.S. farmers grow industrial hemp. As of midnight Tuesday, those requests have vanished and the website is “down for maintenance.” But not to worry: “All existing petitions (have) been preserved and will be available when the site is relaunched,” Trump’s smoothly-oiled machine assures us, at which point “they will begin receiving responses.” The change, officials add, will “save taxpayers $1.3 million annually.” Though we can’t wait, other people seem skeptical of their various claims. We can’t imagine why.