Pay or no pay democracy will prevail

In theory, a democracy gives its citizens a voice, a voice that allows for change and advancements.

Hundreds of years ago in city-states, a democracy could potentially have a majority express their voice. In modern day democracies, with populations in the millions it is not feasible for everyone to be heard.

As a result we now have representatives and measures in place to allow citizens to voice their opinions, perhaps the most basic being petitioning.

As of late petitioning has come under scrutiny. Debates of whether signature collectors should be paid are paired with accusations of identity theft, vandalisms, and at least one account of assault from the American Federation of Teachers.

Which begs the question: Does it really matter?

Politics has always been said to be dirty business, so for argument sake we will remove the elements of violence and vandalism.

So, should petitioners be paid?

Does it really matter if they are?

Petitioners are collecting signatures for a cause, if people support that cause, be it gay marriage or tax cuts, people will sign a petition. If a person disagrees they will simply walk on by, just like people already do. If people want change and a large enough following is there, a democracy will acknowledge that following.

As for the accusation of fraud, responsibility belongs to the person signing the petition. Swindlers and hustlers have been around for ages, and it is easy to put the blame on them for your mistakes.

Lets say that petitioners are in fact committing fraudulent acts. If a petitioner is lying about the details of the petition, it is still the citizen’s fault for signing.

A person must always read a document they are going to sign. One cannot blindly sign a document without reading it; the cliché about reading the fine print is a cliché for a reason.

If a citizen is not familiar with a cause, why support it? Why take the petitioner at their word?

At the very least read the information at the top of a petition before signing. But why not instead educate yourself on the issue?

If a petitioner is planning on actually stealing your identity, the same applies. Read the document, if you are not comfortable signing the petition then do not. You are they best line of defense against identity theft.

If you do not give your information out, it becomes more difficult to steal. Regardless, there are easier and more efficient ways to steal identities than to stand out in the sun having people sign a piece of paper.

A democracy allows citizens to voice their beliefs. A petitioner is really just a manifestation of that verbal expression. Regardless if they are paid or volunteers, they represent someone’s voice. Any harm that comes from signing a petition is not solely the fault of a petitioner being paid, or even from a petitioner lying.

Being ignorant of what you are signing is a considerable factor as well.