Over 712,000 Americans who reside in the district lack genuine representation in Congress. They don’t have a Senator and they have a Congresswoman in the House who has no vote – unlike your Representative and mine, she cannot vote on all of the matters that affect the 712,000 Americans whom she represents.
712,000 Americans with no representation. Wyoming has 3 voting members of Congress for its 582,00 people. Vermont has 3 voting members of Congress for its 623,000 people. But D.C. has zero votes in Congress for its 712,000 hard-working, tax-paying, business-owning residents.
What prevents this wrong from being corrected? It is the Republican obsession with their own power and their quite justified fear that their policies and beliefs – obscene, outdated, anti-democracy, anti-working people, pro-White folk policies and beliefs – are being rapidly rejected by America. To these Republicans, D.C. isn’t 712,000 Americans. They only see Black people. And they assume that those Black people are Democrats – certainly not Republicans. And they assume that D.C.’s Senators would be Democrats and that would mean they are a minority party in the Senate.
Well. They ARE a minority party, in the House, in the Senate, and in the country. But let’s go back to the “Black, therefore not Republican” thinking. The Republican Party doesn’t expect Black people (or Brown or immigrant for that matter) to support their policies or their candidates. Therefore, they see the addition of a predominantly-Black state as a threat to their power in the Senate.
And how do Republicans protect themselves from that threat? There are hard ways and easy ways. A hard way is to change your policies and beliefs to something that attracts Black voters. Another hard way is to persuade Black voters that your policies and beliefs are to their benefit. The Republican Party has not shown any interest in either of these approaches.
Instead, the Republicans prefer that easy way – use their waning power to prohibit the formation of a new, Black-majority, Democratic state.
This Republican argument against D.C. Statehood is pretty straight-forward. They argue that statehood would add 2 Democratic senators to the U.S. Senate and that would give the Democratic caucus a majority. Republicans depended on holding a majority in the Senate for the past 6 years, using that majority to block appointments by President Obama, a Democrat, and to rush through appointments by his Republican successor. That Senate majority also allowed Republicans to push through a tax cut for corporations and wealthy individuals (using reconciliation) as well as to block every major bill passed by the House under a Democratic majority. They blocked badly-needed rescue funding for individuals, families, workers, state and local governments (including police departments) during the coronavirus pandemic. They blocked urgent funding to ensure election and voting security in the lead-up to the 2020 elections. They blocked hundreds of bills from the House, most without even so much as a hearing, let alone a vote.
And they turned their back on two impeachments, saying that their Republican president can’t be convicted even if he did what he’s charged with. Because. Republicans.
Republicans will openly, unashamedly say that 712,000 D.C. residents can’t have representation in Congress because it would endanger their power. That’s it. Nothing else to say.
Since the Republican Party became the minority in the Senate, they’ve tried to use other kinds of language. It would be unconstitutional, they argue (no, it wouldn’t). And it would be dangerous – the city needs Federal troops and military to keep order (can’t use that argument very well since the January 6th Republican insurrection attempt). But this is just cover for their very real concern that they will lose their power in the Senate.
Which, of course, they have lost. They are the minority party now. And the passage of HR 51, the Washington, D.C. Admission Act (the “DC Statehood” bill), is now finally and realistically in play for 712,000 Americans who have all of the responsibilities and obligations of being an American citizen, but without full representation in Congress.
It’s long past time to make this fair. For them. For us. For America. It’s time to pass DC Statehood.
a Source for population estimates: “List of states and territories of the United States by population“, Wikipedia. Retrieved February 18, 2021
Image: District of Columbia license plate, 2017, District of Columbia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons