This week’s elections will give citizens all over America the opportunity to choose the leaders that will manage our federal republic. All over the U.S., that is, except in its very own capital.
Washington D.C.’s half million inhabitants pay federal income tax and are affected (sometimes arguably more) by the decisions Congress makes, but they have no voting representation in either the House or the Senate. You don’t have to be reminded that taxation without representation was the reason the Founding Fathers waged war against England.
What many–including the Green Party–propose to rectify this inequity is to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. There’s some merit to that proposition.
For one thing, Washington has more residents than Wyoming and just about as many as North Dakota, Alaska, and Vermont. Yet they have two senators apiece; D.C. has none.
The rub, however, is that if D.C. was to become a state, its senators and representative will almost assuredly be Democrats or even Greens. Although some libertarians will point to the salutary, path-beating effects that a Green in Congress would have for third parties generally, the political cost may not be worth it. So what’s the answer to D.C.’s deficit of democracy?
A little discussed choice is no taxation–make D.C. residents exempt from federal taxes. That would solve the inequity and likely create a boom in the economically depressed town. The flood of new residents could further expand D.C.’s spreading renewal and gentrification. It would also demonstrate that given the choice, lots of folks would give up politicians to keep their own money.
But of course, this is probably less likely to happen than statehood. More likely solutions to the lack of representation would be to annex the District to either Virginia or Maryland, assign it a congressional district, and allow residents to vote for the state’s Senate seats. Although Virginia would be a more palatable state to live in for people who value liberty, what is presently D.C. used to belong to Maryland. That state would probably be the first candidate to get D.C. Politically, though, being part of Maryland can’t be much worse than it is now, can it? And would they even want the District?
So in the end, don’t hold your breath. D.C. isn’t getting statehood anytime soon. If that happened, there would be no logical reason why New York City shouldn’t follow suit. Urban states could begin to pop up all over the place. The politicians who got elected under the present system aren’t about to rock the boat.
Jerry Brito is editor of Brainwash and a student at George Mason University School of Law. His Web site is jerrybrito.com.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire