Thursday, December 20, 2007

DC gets a quarter! Actual representation next?

I wrote about the New Mexico quarter recently, and wondered that if DC got its own state quarter, would that mean it's a state?

Well, we're getting there. DC did get its own quarter.

If you wonder what all the "Taxation Without Representation" fuss is about in DC, let me clue you in. We pay Federal taxes; we vote for President; we house the center of Federal government in our city and host its thousands of workers every day; and Congress gets to tell the District of Columbia what to do regarding such clearly local matters as education and taxi meters. Yet, we have no voting representation in Congress.

I didn't get what all the fuss was about until I moved here. I have never felt so disenfranchised. A city of 581,530 people, the seat of Federal government, and we have no vote in Congress, while Wyoming with fewer people (pop. 515,004) has three?! Alaska (pop. 670,053), Delaware (pop. (853,476), North Dakota (pop. 635,867 - if it hasn't gone down - people seem to be leaving), South Dakota (pop. 781,919), Montana (pop. 944,632) and Vermont (pop. 623,908) also have three votes in Congress. (These stats all come from the US Census Bureau).

DC does have the venerable Eleanor Holmes Norton, who is our elected delegate to Congress. She sits in the House of Representatives, and is a voting member of committees and subcommittees, but she cannot vote on passage of legislation. Ms. Norton zealously represents DC as best she can, but you're always hobbled if you have no actual vote. With Eleanor, and the better-late-than-never home rule, are we better off than, say, Puerto Rico or Guam? And having voting Congresspeople does make a difference in the power structure: see, e.g., Rep. Don Young(R) and Alaska's "bridge to nowhere." Dang, DC might just like a little old "sidewalk to nowhere" at first, we'll shoot for the bridge later on.
So, just think about it for a moment. What if Congress suddenly decided that the state of Wyoming no longer needed its voting Congressional reps? Sorry, Wyoming, too few people, and you're awfully rural, and so much of your land is Federal land anyhow, so you'd really be better off if Congress just took the reins..... Imagine the outrage. Now muster it up for DC, which has never had the Congressional vote that every other citizen of the United States takes for granted.

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