The District of Columbia has 715,000
residents, more than the states of Wyoming and Vermont. We pay taxes,
just like citizens in all 50 states. But our citizens are
second-class citizens. We have no voting representation in the House
of Representatives or the United States Senate. We have taxation
Congressional representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) has served in
Congress since 1991. She has tirelessly fought for DC statehood, most
recently introducing HR 51 on the very first day of the 117th
Congress, on January 3. She has 202 cosponsors of the legislation,
all Democrats. Not a single Republican thinks that the residents of
the District of Columbia deserve equal rights. Norton has introduced
legislation to establish DC statehood since 1991. Republicans don’t
support this because they think Democrats get an edge if a voting
representative and two senators are Dems. Would they disenfranchise
California because Democrats do better there?
insurrection on January 6 illustrates one of the many reasons that DC
deserves statehood. Mayor Muriel Bowser cannot assemble the DC
national guard on her own. She has to ask for federal government
“permission” to get our national guard, made up of DC
residents, to protect our citizens and our streets. Any other
governor can ask for National Guard assistance, but the DC Mayor has
to go, hat in hand, to the feds, who have been traditionally hostile
is the most recent attack on DC sovereignty. In past years, Congress
has passed laws that directly contradict laws the DC City Council has
passed. Congress has offered scant respect for DC leaders. But DC
voters, through charter amendment, made the DC Attorney General an
elected position. Karl Racine was elected in 2014 and reelected in
2018. He has aggressively challenged the status quo, suing the Trump
administration for its chicanery. He has also defended DC
independence and pushed back on attacks to DC sovereignty. The
blessing of having an independent Attorney General (as opposed to
someone appointed by the Mayor) is that the AG can play a different
kind of politics than the Mayor must.
DC statehood issue affects you whether you live in DC or not. When
you hear voter suppression, think DC. A few years ago, DC was
majority Black (now it’s at least 45 percent). Republicans
weren’t about to put a congressional voting seat and two senate
seats to Black folks. Just like they will scheme and connive to keep
Black voters away from the polls in North Carolina, Georgia, and
other states. You can’t talk about equal rights unless you are
interested in the rights of DC residents. It’s not a local
issue; it’s a national issue.
many, though, have been disturbingly silent about the rights of DC
residents. Too many seem to think that our rights’ abrogation
is a remote issue that shouldn’t matter to them. Too many put
this on the back burner, preferring the status quo to providing DC
residents with voting rights.
Joe Biden has not embraced DC statehood or put it on top of his list.
That’s not surprising. When President Barack Obama had both a
Democratic House and Senate, the matter was not a priority. When
President Bill Clinton led our nation, he somehow did not get around
to the statehood issue. Republican resistance to statehood is
expected. Democratic indifference is far more galling. The same party
that will challenge voter suppression has never made DC voting a
Mayor Muriel Bowser has her hands tied, as prior mayors of DC have.
Congress has intruded into DC internal affairs, appointing a
“Control” Board (I called it the Out of Control Board) in
1995 to oversee DC financial decisions that should have been the
Mayor’s purview. Congress meddles in DC in ways it could not
interfere in any other jurisdiction.
deserves autonomy, and the debacle with the National Guard on January
6 is the most recent illustration of the reason. If you believe in
equal rights, this is an issue for you whether or not you live in DC.
The Biden–Harris administration must prioritize this, and you