Ethics Quote of the Day: The Washington Post

OK, Tea Party, this should be right up your alley.

“We hope that some members of Congress’s new “Tea Party Caucus” can make it down to the fireworks Monday night. It might be a good time to reflect on the primary motivation for the original Boston Tea Party, which was that Americans should not be taxed by a government in which they had no parliamentary representation. That right to a voting representative is still denied to all who live in the nation’s capital, and some of them must be wondering why members of Congress who so revere the Founders haven’t done something about it.”

The Washington Post editorial board, in a “footnote” to its editorial about the enduring importance of the Declaration of Independence.

Little more needs to be said. The fact that the citizens of the District of Columbia, who number more than the populations of several states, are unrepresented in the House and the Senate is beyond disgraceful. Yes, there are troublesome issues to be worked out. It is also clear that if the either political party placed a higher priority on fairness and self-government than it did on political considerations, the problem would have been settled by now—after all, the District has been without representation for more than 200 years.

Most of the blame, however, goes to the Republicans, who have been obstructing D.C. representation for the most naked of self-serving motives: it is a predominantly African American, knee-jerk liberal city, and would surely contribute two Senators and one Representative to the Democratic cause. (This is also an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, since the memory of how the GOP blocked its citizens from the most basic American right will and should keep the District deep blue until the stars turn cold.)

Well, too bad: the fact that most DC residents are Democrats is no excuse for keeping them from meaningful participation in national lawmaking. The Post is exactly right: if the Tea Party has integrity and is true to its principles, it will firmly endorse representation for the District of Columbia. This would also have the beneficial side effect of ending the liberal trope that the Tea Party is racist at its core. The main reason for doing it, however, could be more obvious. It is the right thing to do, and overdue as well.

11 thoughts on “Ethics Quote of the Day: The Washington Post

  1. It is important to do the right thing the right way, as you explained in another post.

    The Constitution specifies that representatives shall be apportioned among the states. D.C. is no more entitled to representation under the Constitution than France, China, or Israel. Several Voting Rights Acts were proposed which merely add statutes that allow D.C. residents to elect a representative, without amending the Constitution. The obstructionists were able to use that as a justification to block those acts.

    The only way to grant D.C. representation is by amending the United States Constitution .

  2. Or DC could be added to Maryland, from whence it came. It doesn’t matter which—if it needs an amendment, there should be no opposition to it, any more than allowing Delaware, Montana or Wyoming be represented. The issue also eats up a disproportionate amount of time and energy in DC politics.

  3. I agree with you, somewhat, in principle, but I wouldn’t lay it all off on the Republicans. The District of Columbia, albeit a special case, has shown no ability for 50 years to govern itself– even down to its obscenely-funded “state” University.

    Sure, all states have their slimebags (after all, we in Virginia STILL have Jim Moran), but other states’ entrance into the Union was governed by different standards, and if you don’t want DC to become a state, let it become a territory like Puerto Rico, where no one pays federal taxes and gets all the benefits HHS has to offer.

    After years of watching Marion Barry boost the employment rate by creating new government jobs, after watching people be fired because they happened to understand the English language, I say forget it. I went to public school in DC (albeit honors programs and demonstration schools), but the 1960s decision of that brilliant judge, The Hon. Skelly Wright, which stated basically said that since the population of all DC public school students was 80% black and 20% white, ALL schools should carry that percentage. Hence busing and white flight. No move to improve the “black” schools, only one that drove most of the whites out of public schools and/or DC itself and did them all a disservice. This was not the beginning of DC’s demonstrated inability to make clear decisions for itself.

    Sorry, but I LIVED D.C., and don’t, in the decades past, see much improvement. As luck would have had it, we lived in upper Northwest, highly taxed but relatively untouched by moronic decisions made by the local government. But the financial, judicial, and jurisdictional issues that would ensue from DC statehood would be complex, and I don’t see any leadership that could help handle it.

    I DO agree that the Republicans and tea-party members should support such a move, but I DON’T agree that it would be a positive thing for it to come to fruition.

    • The District can’t be held to a more stringent standards of competence than, say, Illinois, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey or California. That wouldn’t be fair. There’s no honesty or competence requirement for statehood, or we’d have about three states.

  4. While I agree with your comment regarding standards of competence, what you’re essentially arguing here – with regard to the argument for full representation – is for Washington to be granted statehood – or, as Mr. Ejercito notes, changing the Constitution. To that end, it’s worth remembering that the Founders specifically established the Capitol to be independent of the states, in order to ensure that no state could interfere with the Federal government (and, one presumes, vice-versa).

    Residents of D.C. who wish for full representation in the House and Senate are not denied the right to obtain it. They can, in fact, gain said rights simply by moving to one of the states. I hear there are several nice ones right close by.

    • You’re arguing that the ability to move out of a US jurisdiction that denies citizens their rights is a satisfactory resolution of the issue? Gee—why did we worry about all that segregation and civil rights stuff? “Just move to the North, you blacks! What’s stopping you?”

      Be serious.

      I also see no connection between having a voice in Congress and “interfering” with the Federal government. That was the reason behind Congressional control of the District, which is much diminished by home rule now anyway..

  5. Love the blog, Jack, but your argument re: slaves is specious. There was a LOT stopping them – including (the distance notwithstanding) the very real threat of terrible physical abuse or even summary execution. Oh, and let’s not forget that for a while there the northern states were at least theoretically required to send ’em back.

    Rather than slaves risking their lives by attempting to gain freedom, a far better analogy would be people who are either born near or move to a neighborhood on the glideslope of a major airport and whine about the noise. The airport isn’t going away. The solution is obvious: either get used to it, or go somewhere else.

    This nation’s expansion and phenomenal success was in large part fueled by people being willing to pull up stakes and move to get a better deal for themselves and their families. Today, we’re becoming a nation that somehow feels entitled to sit on our butts until government does something to fix whatever the heck is currently annoying us.

    • Who said anything about slaves? I‘m talking about the pre-civil rights acts, 20’s-50’s Jim Crow era blacks, who were de facto deprived of their rights. Move? I don’t think so. Those who could, did. Those who couldn’t were hardly to blame. I’m assuming your ‘move to another state” solution for DC residents who want the same rights as everyone else is tongue in cheek, but if not, it’s nonsense.

  6. ‘k, fair enough – and you might note that many African-Americans DID make the move north and found a better life than was available where they were.

    In this example, we are not talking about major moves here. We are talking about incremental ones. The District of Columbia constitutes just upwards of 61 square miles, of which roughly 7 s.m. are water. Ballpark, it’s 7 X 10 miles on a northwest/southwest axis. From almost anwyhere in the district, one can get into a different state by walking for 45 minutes. No one is trapped in DC, unless they choose to be.

    Let me give you another analogy. I live in farm country. A hundred yards down the road lives a beef farmer. When the wind is right (it is 25% of the time) his manure pile comes into my living room.

    I would have moved years ago if it bothered me enough, and yours truly is far from a wealthy man. I choose not to.

    Anyone in D.C. who feels so disenfranchised as to need 1 : 435K House representation absolutely has options. That they do not choose the exercise same is their problem, not yours, or mine, and all the whining in the world – promoted at the hands of professional agitators – won’t change that. You are, in effect, defending self-selected inertia. And I’ve been reading you long enough to know you’ve usually got little sympathy for same.

    Near as I can tell, the output of my neighbor’s cattle and the output of the House and Senate are in direct correlation. Props to my neighbor – unlike in DC, after a sufficient period of time, we can EAT my neighbor’s cattle. And we do.

    • What about the people who live in Washington D.C. that provide vital services (I’m told they exist) or amenities like working at the Smithsonian? If they all moved away, who would do these things? It would seem inefficient to clear out the 61 sqm. and import all labour from Maryland and Virginia when an easy solution exists (just give them some representation).

      • Residential should be annexed out of the city of DC and mixed use residential/commercial should be prohibited within the boundaries of DC.

        If a house is torn down and replaced with a shop, voila! DC.
        If a shop is torn down and replaced with apartments, voila! Maryland.

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