One of the ways in which we can make our voices heard in Washington is the online petition. An organization -- like MoveOn.org, CREDO Action or TrueMajority.org -- drafts a petition about a certain subject, posts it to the Internet and gets people around the country to sign it before delivering said petition to the applicable politicians.
On top of the methods of letter-writing, phone calls and emails, online petitions are a nice way for the grassroots level to tell Washington what they want. In theory, such an en masse voice can combat the far richer voices of the corporate lobbyists -- and, ideally for ordinary Americans, signing a petition only takes seconds, so you can make your voice heard without making too much of a dent in the rest of your day.
I still make time for the other communication methods, but petitions are also a part of what I try to do to make sure change actually comes into being. There's no real tangible way to measure the effects of online petitions, but they can't hurt.
A few of the petitions making the rounds through the Internet today:
TrueMajority.org -- Tell President Obama to Enact a Bank Tax: http://act.truemajorityaction.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=48
EarthJustice -- Stop Clean Air Attacks in the U.S. Senate: http://action.earthjustice.org/campaign/cleanair_0110/i8uke7urf7jx7i78?#startform
Consequence Campaign -- Stop the Dirty Air Act: http://act.consequence09.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=552&1
In addition to the above sites, you can find other petitions related to progressive causes at Change.org, FireDogLake and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. These petitions take seconds to complete, and you can alert others to them via Twitter and Facebook. You can also find petitions if you frequent such political sites as The Huffington Post, Daily Kos and Talking Points Memo.
In short, making your voice heard about the issues that matter to you doesn't have to be hard, time-consuming exercise. By all means, attend rallies, volunteer for candidates who speak to you and personally correspond with your elected officials -- but don't ignore the online petition. They might work better than you think.