When Ethical Is Also Smart: The D.C. Statehood Dilemma

DC statehood

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.

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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.