The introduction of a bill for D.C. statehood seems like a good time to consider this.
The GOP opposition to statehood for the District of Columbia is a genuine example of the kind of voter suppression that the Left is unfairly and dishonestly accusing Republicans of pursuing elsewhere. The proof of this is stunningly simple: Does anyone believe that if Washington, D.C. had an overwhelmingly conservative population that could be counted on to put Republicans in office, the party wouldn’t be insisting that the city should become a state? (Does anyone believe that if this was the case, Democrats would not be opposing their position?)
The District’s largest racial group is black, with whites slightly behind. But Democrats make up more than 75% of the registered voters , while only 6% are registered Republicans. About 95% of all voters can be relied upon to vote Democratic in any election, regardless of the candidates.
Therefore Republicans don’t want the District to be able elect two Senators and a voting House member. This isn’t racial voter suppression: you know that if black voters in the District were reliable Republicans, the alternate universe I posited above would exist. But it is still voter suppression. The fact that U.S.citizens living in the nation’s Capital lack representation in Congress is a national scandal that has persisted too long.
As a prominent scar on our democratic principles, it presents the GOP with an opportunity to show that while it is legitimately concerned with the integrity of the voter rolls and voter credentials, it is not focusing on these issues for partisan benefit. Republicans should offer the party’s support for D.C. statehood. From a political perspective, it is a valuable bargaining chip: the party should promise that it will not try to hold up statehood—as it certainly can— if the Democrats will drop some of their more dangerous plots, like packing the Supreme Court.
Statehood far from an ideal solution, but it is a solution, and it can be accomplished, unlike every other suggestion I’ve heard. It is the most practical and the least offensive of the various proposals to solve the District’s long-standing plight; it’s still a lousy one. However, leaving more than a half-million Americans without access to full voting rights is worse. D.C., at last count, has more people than Vermont and Wyoming and only slightly less than North Dakota, all with a House member and two Senators. One argument against statehood is that the city is too small to be a state, which is like saying Pluto is too small to be a planet. There is no minimal land mass for a state: the definition doesn’t exist. Rhode Island, the smallest state, is 17 times larger than D.C., but then Sitka, Alaska, with 2,870 square miles, it is more than twice the size of Little Rhodey, but it has only 8,881 residents.
All the arguments against D.C. statehood are rationalizations. The worst is “but the Founders wanted it this way.” The Founders did not “want” a half-million American citizens to be subjected to “taxation without representation.” They were dealing with other issues, and didn’t consider what their plan would require a couple of centuries later.
Republicans can demonstrate that the party is not trying to disenfranchise African Americans, by pro-actively enfranchising them in D.C., even with the knowledge that their gratitude will never extend to the the ballot box.