Washington, D.C. As A State? 10

Heck no! That’s all that should be said, but I need to chew on this a while to see if I am advocating the right thing.

The crux of the argument for D.C. statehood is that the citizens living there are not represented fully in the nation’s Congressional assemblies. That is true. They have a place-holder kind of Congressman, but that Representative does not have voting privileges.  At first look, these people are being deprived of their some of their rights.

However, the real politics of the situation is that the fifty states will not allow another state to be added to the Union.  Those same people who are being deprived of their rights, now, would be over-represented, diluting the rights of others.

Making Washington D.C. a state sounds like the fair thing to do. I don’t agree that making things fair is the goal of the Constitution. Being fair is always a subjective thing. The word, fair, is not even used in the entire Constitution. The job of the Constitution is to accord the same rights to everybody, but this sometimes cannot happen in the real world. That is why the Constitution allows the Congress power in these issues. The solution would be political, and the Congress is all about politics.

Plus, there is just something wrong with the idea that Washington, D.C. is a very large city whose primary sustenance comes from the taxpayers of the nation, and the recipients of that tax money might have a say in who and how the taxing is done. It is a fact that Washington, DC is the richest city in the nation. Most people there are tax-takers, not tax-payers.

The current situation is not going to change. You can talk all you want about those tiny New England states, and sparsely populated western states wielding the same power as much larger states in the US Senate. It is what it is, and it is not about to change given the current arrangement.

The impasse is a political reality, and will stay that way unless we decide to reconfigure all of the states.

To achieve this, we would have to have people decide how many states there would be. For example, Texas could easily divide into at least five separate states. California could be a half-dozen or more. Georgia, Tennessee, and other states have natural constituencies in their geographical confines. Many other states have similar population and cultural divides.

The US Congress would be a lot larger than now, but there is no reason why we could not achieve a relatively even distribution of rights across the country. All we have to do is change the current Constitution.

My plan is just a quirky, back of the envelope look at something. But, unless we change the current system, those folks in Washington, D.C. will never have their rights due under our Constitution. On the other hand, maybe we should permanently enjoin those people from voting if they make their living as a government employee.

Could you go for that?

10 comments

  1. I say no to Washington, D.C. becoming a state. The founders of America never meant it to be one. Instead, it was designed to be a separate capitol, with no state wielding undue influence over it. Making it a state would bypass that intention.

  2. Exactly! The founders created the District of Columbia for a reason, and there is no reason to change that. Those people can still vote in Presidential elections, so what’s the problem?

  3. Leticia, DC statehood advocates are always griping about their lot in life. I got the idea for the blog from a cable tv program on the Smithsonian Channel titled, “How The States Got Their Shapes”. In the program they interviewed people from areas of the country where there had been attempts to create new states, and DC was one of those. If you remember Jesse Jackson once campaigned for DC statehood. He wanted his own state. Similar to movements like those in Puerto Rico and Guam, the DC folks are not silent. You will probably hear more about this as time goes by because most of the population of DC is aligned with the Democrats.

  4. I am not feeling very generous today. The Federal District of Columbia was specifically set up so that the seat offf our federal government would not be in any state. IMO, and I am never short of opinions, is that the federal government made a serious mistake years ago. They should never have allowed private citizens to reside within D.C. They should have allowed each state to construct homes for their Senators and Congressman to use while holding office and no one else. Also, people knew that they would be living in a federal district and not a state when they moved there. So, if they want the same representation as others, they can move! (I said I was feeling very generous today.)

  5. Jim, thank you for your generous comment. It highlights what most people think, and what the founders intended. One of the complaints is that the population of DC is predominantly black, and has been so since the Civil War era. In other words those people had no choice in where to live once they got to the promised land, and should not be deprived of any of their rights. I am not sure whether there is a “right” to vote for any Congressional person, and whether that thought even holds water. In plain language there is no need to allow DC to become a state for the reasons you outline. That dog just won’t hunt.

  6. I live in DC, and I have to agree with you on several points, but I’d like to correct some misconceptions.

    DC proper is NOT the wealthiest city in the country. Much of the wealthiest part of the “DC metro” area is to the north and west, in the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. DC proper, especially the largest two eastern quadrants, with most of the population, is actually quite blue collar, and fairly low income. Only 170,000 of the 600,000 DC population work for the federal government. The rest of the local Federal workforce (more than 90 percent of the “DC” federal workforce) live in the Maryland and DC suburbs, and can therefore vote. If you are going to disallow federal employees from voting, don’t forget to disallow the vote for the millions of Federal employees who live in other cities as well. (Good luck with that!) DC has by far the largest proportion of daily commuters from the suburbs of any city in the country, and all of those commuters from outside DC can vote. They also impose a large demand on DC city services, of which a disproportionate share of the cost is borne by actual city residents (there is no commuter tax allowed).

    A couple more points:
    At the time of The Great Compromise of 1787, which set the House membership based on population, and the Senate as two senators per state, the largest state by population, Virginia, had ten times the population of the smallest state. Today, the largest state by population, California, has over 70 times the population of the smallest, Wyoming (which has less population than DC), and is one of the fastest growing as well. The disproportion gets rapidly worse every year. We need not divide up the states to mitigate this growing disproportion, but we might need to “re-state” the Great Compromise; For example, perhaps we could allocate additional Senators based on each full increment of ten million population…, that would give the largest, fast-growing states, like California, Texas, and Florida a more proportionate and appropriate representation. California with 37 million would get 3 more senators and soon 4), Texas with 25 million would get 2 more senators, Florida and New York Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois would each get one additional senator, To compensate, those states with LESS than one million population (currently Wyoming, [District of Columbia?], Vermont, North Dakota, Alaska, South Dakota, Delaware, and Montana — in order by size), might get only ONE senator.

    Also:
    Th Constitution speaks of the people of the several states (NOT the RESIDENTS of the several states). The people of DC ARE the people of the several states – they are certainly not the people of the Asian steppes, nor of the Australian outback, nor of the Argentinian pampas, nor of the arctic tundra, nor…well, you get my drift. Military serving abroad and American expatriates are allowed to vote absentee regardless of the length of their residency abroad, or their intention to return to reside in the fifty states. I propose we allow DC residents a similar arrangement,where each DC resident declares affiliation or affinity with a single state, and votes there absentee. This would allow our nation to progress toward a “more perfect Union”, closer to fulfilling the fundamental first principle of our founders, that “just [ie, legitimate] power derives from the consent of the governed…” (ALL the governed.

    Finally, if DC should have been kept a depopulated zone, we could start over. Forty miles north of the town of Belle Fourche, South Dakota, carve a new district for the seat of government, from uninhabited grasslands and allow only tents and porta-potties for the legislators, who would be the only occupants allowed during legislative sessions. After the legislative sessions, remove the tents and porta-potties and return it to grasslands. Return the former District to Maryland, and get your government of the backs of its residents.

    We only want to participate equally in our native land. Most Federal employees (especially the lower ranks) have very little say in policy, less than you do, what with the Hatch act etc.We DC denizens seek Equality, Nothing More, but Equality, Nothing Less.

    Thanks for your considieration.

  7. Gerry,

    Thanks for your well considered remarks on this post. What you say is important in that you are a resident of DC, and I think my readers will be richer in their perspective after reading what you have to say. I don’t agree with everything you say, but your words are well worth considering.

    With that said, I will copy your comments and make them an independent post for others to read.

    I trust that will be acceptable.

  8. Thanks, Bob, for your thoughtful consideration! An extremely valuable, but rather rare quality these days, I’m afraid.

    I’d be happy to discuss any other points where we might have differing perspectives. If you like, I can edit out some of the typos I see in my comments before you re-post.

    Thanks!
    Gerry

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