Thursday, December 14, 2006

One Vote for DC – a Centrist Position

The District of Columbia is an anomaly in our federal legislature. The residents of the capital have a delegate (currently Eleanor Holmes Norton) who can vote in committee, but not in the full House. D.C. has no senators, though Jessie Jackson sometimes proclaims himself "shadow senator."

Republicans have long resisted giving D.C. representation, because it is overwhelmingly Democratic. Rep. Norton floated an interesting compromise in the last session, partnering with Republican Rep. Tom Davis, to give D.C. a vote in the House, and to give Utah, the most Republican state, another representative. The idea died, but the cause remains.

I used to live in the District of Columbia before we were providentially allowed to move to Kentucky. I like D.C., but it is a very difficult place to raise children. Still, I think all Americans should be represented in the Congress. On the other hand, I think the call for statehood for Washington – a popular slogan among District politicians – is all wrong. The District of Columbia is not a state. It is a city, though a very peculiar one.

So this seems a reasonable compromise. The people of the Washington should be represented in the House of Representatives. No balancing deal should be required; what's right is right. But statehood is out of the question. So, rather than create another anomaly – a Representative without Senators – I have a further idea. Shrink the District of Columbia to the Mall and its immediate environs – the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the White House, and basically the blocks touching them. I would be inclined to throw in the Pentagon, across the river, and Arlington Cemetery. But that would be it. The residential part of Washington would then become the second city of Maryland.

There is an obvious obstacle to this plan: Maryland doesn't want Washington. So the federal government should solve the problem the way it solves most problems – by throwing money at it. Congress should pay Maryland to take Washington. Eleanor Holmes Norton would become another Maryland congresswoman. And the D.C. anomaly would be solved.

7 comments:

wha said...

I doubt Kentucky would mind annexing Washington, especially if Congress is going to throw money at us for it. We've already got Cincinatti's suburbs and Lousiville, neither of which share a whole lot in common with the rest of the state. And if you think a direct land connection is necessary, you need only look to that little piece of land at the western edge of the Commonwealth (Kentucky Bend, New Madrid Bend, Bessie Bend, or Bubbleland; pop. 15) that you have to go through Tenneessee to get to.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't it also be said that the Democrats have always favored representation for the District of Columbia because it's heavily Democratic?
Or do only Republicans do things for political reasons in the world of the Gruntled Center?

Gruntled said...

Democrats have long given lip service to representation for the District of Columbia. Neither party has actually done anything serious since the D.C. delegate got the committee vote.

halifax said...

How about giving DC residents the power to vote in congressional and senatorial elections in either Virginia or Maryland? You could slice it geographically or you could allow them to choose. Since you don't really have to be a resident to run for Senator (see Bobby Kennedy, Hillary Rodham, et al.), why should you have to be a resident to vote?

Gruntled said...

Virginia took back its bit of D.C. long ago (see Arlington). Maryland is the natural home of the other residential bits. If people want to live in northern Virginia, I believe they have a constitutional right to do so.

earnest said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gruntled said...

The previous comment, though for a seemingly worthy cause, is not relevant to this discussion, so I removed it.