This is Stupid and We Can Do Better

I've been following the great, big, exciting news that DC may actually get a vote in the House. At first glance I was pretty excited. Surely, one of the suckiest aspects of Washington is not having Legislative representation. Of course, this is all just too good to be true. Earning this vote would be an insult to American representative democracy.

First, the basics (and if you have been following this or bothered to read the Washington Post article I linked to, you can skip the next few paragraphs). After about hundreds of years of Congressional impotence, the House is close to voting on a bill that would give Washington a vote in the House of Representatives. In the past, Republicans had been wary about this since they appear to care about politics more than basic human rights. DC is about 90% Democrat and the Republicans don't feel like giving the opposition a vote is such a great idea. I find this to be spineless, but whatever.

So, for Washington to get a vote, people needed to find a way to placate the GOP. What better way to do that than to give a red state an extra vote? The legislation being considered by the House would do exactly that by giving Utah an extra Congressional vote. Utah is the perfect state for this since they've been owed an extra district for a while and they represent one of the reddest states in the country. Since Democrats are about as spineless as their counterparts across the isle, this Congressional seat will be an at-large vote. Dems are worried about the effect of an extra district on Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT). No one wants to see him gerrymandered into the unemployment line. Of course, an at-large seat in a state with a large population is totally unheard of.

Let me reiterate that I really, really, really want DC to have a vote in Congress. But this plan sucks balls for a variety of reasons:

1. By giving a vote to Utah, it makes it seem like letting DC have a vote in the House is a political issue. For the love of God, this is not a political issue. It's a human rights issue. We have American soldiers (now including my 50-year-old uncle) fighting for the voting rights of Iraqi and Afghan citizens. DC residents don't have those rights. That's something Americans should be ashamed of. It shouldn't matter if DC is 90% Democrat or 90% Republican or 90% Fascist/Commie/Libertarian/Any Other Evil Ideology*. We deserve that vote.

2. House votes don't really matter that much anyways. One DC vote in the House isn't going to suddenly make all of our lives better. This legislation will leave us without two Senators. The Senate is where all the big decisions are made. House members are a dime-a-dozen. If we ever want Senate representation, this bill can not pass. We can't give politicians the satisfaction of thinking that passing this legislation will mean that they've done enough for DC voting rights.

3. This throws centuries of Legislative precedent into the wind. If DC gets merely a house vote, what happens to the other American territories that don't have voting rights? Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands surely all deserve the same rights as DC. Will they get a vote?** Furthermore, providing a House vote without two voting Senators is ridiculous. It puts our entire bicameral Legislature out-of-whack. We can't go giving the House votes all willy-nilly.

4. Utah would be the only state with an at-large Representative where the population doesn't demand it. That may seem like a small point, but I think it's enormous. It would create a Super-Representative in Utah government. He (or she, but probably he) wouldn't be representing a group of people but rather an entire state. This is totally unheard of. It threatens the very foundation of what makes the House distinct from the Senate.

I think those are four pretty good reasons. And I've found the solution!

No, it isn't statehood. DC voters obliterated any shot at statehood in the next century by reelecting Marion Berry for mayor after his crack-cocaine conviction. Anyone holding out for statehood, don't hold your breath. It will never happen in our lifetimes.

Anyone holding out for an amendment that gives us a voting House member and two voting Senators, don't hold your breath either. That would take 75% of the United States' Legislatures approval to pass. I would bet that more than 25% of the states in our union would have a real problem giving voting rights to a majority-minority city. Sure, they let us vote for president, but that was B.M.B. (Before Marion Berry).

My totally awesome solution: Absorb DC into Maryland. We'd get our own Representative due to Maryland's 500,000+ population boost! We'd have our own two Senators! We could still have a City Council, a mayor, and a voice in the Maryland Legislature. Republicans are more likely to accept this plan since Maryland is already solidly blue. I just don't see a downside here. It's pragmatic and it allows DC residents to get the representation we deserve.

I understand that some will mourn the loss of DC's city-state status. But I think that since we've had home rule, DC politicians have proven that they do not have the ability to take care of a city's budget, infrastructure, or educational system. Let's hand over the reins to someone else, someone who knows what they're doing, and enjoy having a vote that matters on Election Day.

* Just kidding, Libertarians and Communists. I know that Fascists are worse than you guys.
** For what's it worth, I think the best solution to that problem is gradually granting these territories independence. Key word is "gradually." We all know what can happen when a imperialist country totally abandons their colonies. (Hint: Africa.)


  1. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    Maryland sucks. PG county sucks. Baltimore sucks. Bethesda sucks. The Terps suck. The O's suck. The Eastern Shore sucks. The Ravens usually suck. Erhlich sucks. This doesn't solve anything. If anything, DC would be worse if part of MD. At least now, DC residents can have this unique chip on their collective shoulder. Go back to Cape Cod, where the traffic sucks.

  2. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    you can't make dc part of a state. the best part of living there has always been that you don't have a governor breathing down your neck the whole time.

  3. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    How about simply freeing DC residents from paying federal taxes? Still wouldn't have representation, but wouldn't have taxation either, and we could get rid of those damn whiney license plates.

  4. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    The founding fathers intended to bar DC from statehood for a reason.

    DC just wants a congressional seat so they can help themselves to thier own pork projects. hell, why not give them a senator?

  5. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    Disney Land (aka Washington, DC) should not get a seat, nor should Knotts Berry Farm (aka Utah).

  6. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    For Christsake, Randy, try for once to think before you write. Washington D.C., situated in continental United States, is the same as overseas protectorates?

  7. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    Yeah "Randy," for Christ's sake. Think man!

    I don't think D.C. should get any votes. It's not about right or left, or up or down, the district was created before the current population moved (or was born) here. They knew what they were getting into. The District is unique and it serves its purpose.

    I think you should go with "Randy." Randy fits you better than Rusty. You're a Randy, Randy.

    And if you had slightly less class your name would be Travis. :)

  8. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    "The founding fathers intended to bar DC from statehood for a reason. "

    By this logic, we'd still have the Three-Fifths compromise. Good one, fool.

  9. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    Oh wow. The classic "the constitution allowed slavery so therefore the whole things is stupid" argument. Is this a 10th grade civics debate?

  10. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    I've been saying DC belongs in MD for years, so it's about time someone agrees with me. Aside from the fact that DC has no representation in congress, we get totally screwed by the percentage of prime real estate that should form a solid property tax base, but the Federal government doesn't pay property taxes. How can an independent city (or state) support itself when it's subsidizing half of the federal government's infrastructure?

    We need a little vatican city downtown between the white house and capitol building and let the feds have that. The rest should be part of MD. Except that MD wouldn't have this piece of crap city in its borders, and I don't blame them.

  11. AnonymousMay 23, 2006

    Yeah, agreed. Knock off the 10th grade (non college prep) civics lessons, fool.

    I'm glad I don't live in the District any longer. Don't have to carry a weapon or take shit from resentful street urchins. Or tolerate immigrants whistling at my girlfriend.

  12. Frankly, I disagree with a lot of the comments. But, whatever, most people are making fair points.

    But the one point I strongly disagree with is

    "Washington D.C., situated in continental United States, is the same as overseas protectorates?"

    I never said that. I said the overseas should be independent since they, like every other human being, deserve the right to vote for their leaders.

    DC, on the other hand, being a continental colony with a ton of American citizens, deserves to have a Rep and two Senators...my plan allows that.

  13. A governor breathing down your neck? That's being a bit dramatic. I've yet to feel like Gov. Pataki is looking over my shoulder or making any impact on my life whatsoever. But hey if you feel like Gov. Ehrlich is going to ruin your life I guess that's your thing.

  14. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    Fuck MD, that state fucking sucks. Never suggest anything becomes part of MD, the place is full of crack heads who just stand outside the methadone clinic just waiting to chug cock in hopes of getting another piece of rock. Thoughts of suicide were the only thing that kept me going during the year I lived in that God awful state. I think you should have a week where you just rip on MD. The only thing #1 about them is they have the highest std rate per capita. Ok, Baltimore used to have the #1 murder rate as well. When I lived there there were 55 murders in 55 days, I felt safe when I had the ghetto bird's light on my row house.

  15. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    So, in order to prove that D.C. residents should get a say in how this country is governed, you're going to dismiss the ability of the leaders D.C. residents have already elected.
    Interesting strategy.
    But, gotta say, whether I agree with it or not (and I do not), this was a great post. Welcome back to complaining about what there is to hate about D.C., Rusty.

  16. It's not dismissing them as much as sacrificing them. Even if DC politicians were doing a bang-up job, I would advocate absorption into Maryland. Having Congressional representation is more important and this is most pragmatic way to get there.

  17. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    Slavery and having a congressionally nuetral district are two very different concepts. Maybe the people in DC are too stupid for congressional representation???

  18. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    ALL of you guys are wrong! WRONG!!

    We should build a giant floating cloud city populated by federal officials, government workers, droids, and droids whose sole purpose is to wash other droids.
    Lando Calrisian would be the Mayor.

  19. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands surely all deserve the same rights as DC. Will they get a vote?**

    If you don't assert here moral equivalency between D.C. and overseas territories, what are you saying? Granted, you caveat it with the footnote that "For what's it worth, I think..." that they deserve independence. But this conditional, footnoted statement does not contradict the earlier assertion within the main text that they "all deserve the same rights as DC." But they don't. The merits of their independence or continued association with the U.S. can be debated separately. Their status does not enjoy moral equivalence with D.C., however.

  20. You make a strong point. Here's where I disagree:

    By saying people living in the Northern Mariana Islands deserve the same rights as DC residents, I didn't mean they deserve a voice in US Congress. I meant that both deserve the right to have a voice in government. It's an important distinction that I guess I should have been clearer on.

  21. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    I'm still confused, Rusty. What difference are you talking about. "Voice in government" seems pretty equivalent to "voice in Congress."

    Do you mean that the territories' delegates in Congress are good enough, but that DC deserves more?

  22. What I mean is DC deserves a voice in US government since it is clearly part of the United States.

    Our colonies deserve the right to vote and have government represent the wishes of the voters. But, obviously, they aren't truly part of America. So, we grant them independence/freedom.

  23. Maryland is not as blue as you think. In my reporting in Southern Maryland, I have seen redness that would make you cry.

  24. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    Let's argue further the semantics of a half-baked opinion piece.

  25. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    "government since it is clearly part of the United States.

    Our colonies deserve the right to vote and have government represent the wishes of the voters. But, obviously, they aren't truly part of America. So, we grant them independence/freedom"

    Because they don't want it.

    Furthermore, people living in said protectorates are U.S. CITIZENS. Therefore, they deserve the same representation, you fucking nimwits.

  26. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    What else is going on, Randy?

    C'mon. You hate people at the gym or on the bike trail? You hate car rental people? The airport pissing you off? What's going on?

  27. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    Yeah, but those people are second class citizens, Krystal. Let's remember that. You need to stand down.

  28. AnonymousMay 24, 2006

    I will not stand down.

    Why would PR and Guam, then, currently have the same non-voting delegates "represeting" their islands that DC does? Because they represent commonweaths/protectorates comprised of US citizens, shitnoses.

    -Captain stand-down

  29. As much as I'm for the vote in DC, no fucking way will I voluntarily become a Maryland resident. Forget it. You should remember as well the multitude of tax issues that would come with such a decision.

    However I will argue that idiots who think because DC wasn't originally planned to be a state means it never can be are morons. The city has a population of over half a million people which is more than three states that do in face have congressional representation. Why should my voice count less than fuckers in Wyoming? I certainly pay more taxes than they do. It simply boils down to that "whiny" statement on our plates - taxation without representation. If I'm not citizen enough to have voting rights, then you can't fucking tax me as a citizen. It's frankly unconstitutional and I cannot believe people would even argue against it.

  30. Remember Carrie, as long as this city is 2/3 (apx) black, other Americans could give a shit.

    America, what a country!

  31. AnonymousMay 25, 2006

    "According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the District of Columbia continues to lose resident population, although city leaders deny the trend"

    "The figures have the population down to fewer than 435,000 residents by 2030 -- uncomfortably close to halving the District's historical peak, 802,178 in 1950"


  32. AnonymousMay 26, 2006

    Puerto Rico and Guam don't pay federal income taxes. DC does. Therefore, DC is actually significantly more screwed than our overseas protectorates. It is the only place in America to have taxation without representation.

    That said, do you think Maryland wants DC?

  33. The reason why DC does not have voting rights is that it could pressure the federal government in a hundred ways to favor it with legislation if it did. For example, during a civil war, if DC were under local control, the local politicians could legally order the federal authorities to be arrested and locked up. That's why the capital is in its own special district administered by the federal government, not in a state. It's all about the federal government not being the captive of a local legislator, not about the political composition of DC. DC statehood is another example of liberals savaging the nation for partisan gain.