DC Residents Deserve Full Representation, But Statehood Is Not The Answer
Among the growing movements since President Joe Biden took office is the effort by some (read: Democrats) to grant statehood to the District of Columbia.
The argument has some merits, most notably that the roughly 700,000 people who live in our nation’s capital are subject to paying federal taxes without having a voting representative in either house of Congress.
Like other U.S. territories Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands, D.C. residents at least elect a non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives.
But residents of those other territories don’t pay federal taxes.
One may remember a main cause of the Revolutionary War was the idea that colonists were taxed by the British government without having representation in Parliament.
Of course, D.C. does enjoy one major benefit the territories do not — the power to participate in presidential elections as it if was a state.
Most reasonable people would agree that anyone forced to pay federal taxes should have a voting representative in Congress to speak for them. But granting full-on statehood to one city is not a good idea and not what the founders had in mind.
We believe a compromise that has been proposed before would be worth exploring. It would shrink the size of the District of Columbia to just the National Mall — the area including the Capitol and the White House that has no permanent residents, making the rest of what is currently D.C. part of Maryland once again.
Those residents would have their own congressional district in Maryland (D.C.’s population is about the same as an average congressional district) and they could also join in electing senators from that state. It grants them full participation in government without giving one city two senators — something that no other city in America enjoys. It would also keep the center of our federal government from being part of any one state, just as the founders intended.
So why hasn’t it happened? Democrats want to have their cake and eat it, too.
They already can count on three electoral votes every four years virtually guaranteed by D.C.’s overwhelmingly Democratic voter base (it’s noteworthy if a Republican gets 10% of the vote in the city anymore). Now they want to tilt the balance of the Senate in their favor by adding two would-be Democrats to an evenly-divided chamber.
That’s the real reason you see such a push from the left for D.C. statehood.
If Democrats were truly concerned about giving D.C. residents the full representation they deserve, they’d consider the Maryland proposal. But as much as they want to talk about how it’s a shame D.C. residents aren’t afforded all the same voting opportunities as other Americans, Democrats sure are willing to maintain the status quo if it means being able to count on those three electoral votes every four years, aren’t they?
D.C. residents, like all Americans, deserve to participate fully in our government. But what they don’t deserve is the outsized power statehood would grant them.
And what America doesn’t deserve is the balance of an evenly-divided Senate being tilted due to a power grab by the Democrats.