I can't believe I'm writing about the DC Vote legislation again. This is, like, my fifth time wasting time on this? Ugh. Sorry, guys. Yet whenever the issue comes up, you have the Post editorial staff, Marc Fisher, and Martin Austermuhle rallying the troops in support of this bill. I can't let that stand.
For new readers, here's the quick and dirty basics. The legislation, which has passed the House, would give DC a vote in the House of Representatives. It would also give Utah an extra at-large House member to offset the very liberal leanings of the District. This legislation appears to have the support of most everyone in Washington and Utah.
There is some question to the constitutionality of the legislation. Some believe that Congress does not have the ability to grant the District a vote. Naturally, others think this part of the legislation is all kosher. I lean towards the former, but, hey, I'm no legal scholar. I could be wrong.
However, I'm pretty sure that giving Utah an extra at-large House member is wildly, stupidly unconstitutional. It violates everything that is good about representative democracy by giving citizens of one state two voices in the House. This would make Utah more politically potent than any state in the country. That should strike all of you, whether you're from Virginia, Maryland, DC, or Massachusetts (Hi Mom!) as incredibly dangerous.
Of course, Utah's extra vote isn't as important to me as the civil rights of my fellow District residents. Hey, I'm selfish like that. Everyone can agree that our total lack of representation on the Hill is an embarrassment to the very concept of democracy. We pay taxes, fight wars, and we get absolutely no say in how to manage either. This legislation will make things worse.
If you truly believe this is an issue of civil rights (and if you don't, you're a moron), then this legislation is a bitter pill to swallow. Civil rights isn't something you can just cancel out. When women were given the right to vote in 1920, men weren't given two votes to cancel the women out. That would be preposterous. But that is exactly what's happening here. What's the point of representative democracy if your representation can be cancelled out with extra legislators?
Marc Fisher described this Utah vote, the political neutrality, as the "beauty" of the bill. Shame on him. What exactly is the point of having a House vote if it doesn't matter? Since when do our rights as human beings have anything to do with politically neutral? The 1865 black community voted overwhelmingly Republican. Yet Congress didn't pass any legislation giving Democratic states extra representation because it was politically neutral. This is civil rights! What does politics have to do with it!?
Even if the Utah part of the bill is scrapped, the legislation still leaves District residents fundamentally and unacceptably underrepresented. Our hypothetical one voice in the House doesn't come close to matching up the three representatives (one House member, two Senators) that every other American citizen has.
Why must we accept this compromise? In issues of civil rights, there can be no room for compromise. We can't have it both ways when our rights are being trampled. Civil rights compromises are doomed to fail. As long as we are on unequal ground with our fellow Americans, we can not rest. And this legislation is a slap in the face to anyone who truly cares about District residents. We only get a voice if someone else gets the ability to shout you down? We only get one voice, neutered by Utah, in one chamber of Congress? How can this possibly be acceptable?
Hear that Marc Fisher and Martin Austermuhle? Are you for our civil rights or are you for a useless compromise that does nothing but let people pat themselves on the back? Your positions on this matter have been totally unacceptable. I greatly admire your writing on other issues, but your wrongheadedness in such an important matter to DC residents is, frankly, embarrassing. No compromise could be made on slavery. No compromise could be made on segregation. And no compromise can be made here. (And, yes, this is a racial matter. If this city were over 60% white instead of over 60% black, there is no way we're having this conversation.) I hope you do the right thing and come out against this legislation. We need to start from scratch and fight for what we, and every American, deserve: democratic representation and equality. This bill grants us neither.
UPDATE: It looks like the bill failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to open up debate. The bill is dead, for now. It'll probably come back in the next few years. Hopefully, before we have to go through this madness again, we can move pas this farce of a civil rights bill and actually work to get the District's 600,000 residents the Representative and Senators they deserve with no strings attached.