But what exactly does this represent? A fair question that our government leadership should be asking when considering their actions. First, let’s look at what was done to collect these signatures. We held a banner over the highway for an hour. 3 times.
We did not recruit a team of people to stand outside grocery stores or knock on doors in neighborhoods. We did not pay for any advertising. We did not set up phone banks to make calls or stand in front of church congregations asking for support.
All of these signatures have been accumulated from people hearing about it by word of mouth and in social media. Of those who heard, many wanted to sign the petition, but refused to do so simply because they don’t want anything to do with moveon.org. Based on the number of people who said this, we could likely have gotten close to double the number of signatures. Eventually we created a document that people could download, print, sign, and mail back to us. Again, we have not promoted it, yet we have gotten nearly 300 signatures on paper! The effort involved in mailing a paper signature is a clear indication of their commitment to this issue.
When using the petition as a litmus of the overall feeling by the population, consider that most haven’t heard about the petition. Of those who have, many won’t sign because of the website we used. Then consider how quickly we gathered those signatures. To have gotten nearly 32,000 signatures in less than 3 months is huge. In contacting MoveOn.org, they indicated this is one of the most successful petitions they have hosted for a state issue. But wait. This is not really a state issue. This is a local issue. And in that case the success of this petition is unprecedented. If these factors are any indication, the public is overwhelmingly against the operations of express toll lanes. There is no question this issue will be a factor in the next election. Later this year we plan to publish how each legislator stood on this issue.
I have stressed that the focus should be on the issue, not the people. But in the end, the decision-makers will be held accountable for their choices by the 31,500 shouting voices and many times that number of silent-but-angry ones.