DC statehood, the right way forward?


Heath Alexander, Editor

The District of Columbia is an area home to nearly 700 thousand people and recently has been a source of debate for lawmakers. D.C. has no representation in Congress, but its population has steadily grown over the past decade and so there has been a recent push for statehood.

Many people say D.C.’s lack of congressional representation is unconstitutional and call back the colonial rallying cry “no taxation without representation.” This famous saying was used against the British to protest being taxed as British citizens yet having no say in parliament. D.C. residents are going through that exact situation right now; they pay federal taxes yet receive no representation in Congress. This means that the voices and opinions of 700,000 people, more than the total population of either Wyoming or Vermont, are not being heard in Congress.

So why isn’t this bustling metropolitan area at the heart of our government a state? Originally, D.C. was meant to be stateless, thus eliminating the bias of state politics from the federal government. But D.C. was also never meant to grow to its current size and population.

So, what is the issue now? It is rooted in racial injustice and the Republican party’s desperate grasp for power. More than 50% of D.C.’s population is non-white and the district is overwhelmingly liberal. Republican lawmakers have long opposed D.C. statehood due to racism and fearing the black vote. It has also been a ploy to keep those 700,000 mostly democratic votes out of the system.

If DC were to be a state, all of a sudden the Senate majority would be tipped one more state in the favor of the Democratic party with hundreds of thousands of new votes coming in to elect democratic leaders into office. All this has Republican politicians scared of D.C.’s political sway, so they overwhelmingly oppose D.C. statehood.

Democrats in the past have offered many compromises, such as adding Puerto Rico, which surprisingly is majority conservative, as a state alongside D.C. This would allow for both to get congressional representation without changing the majorities in either side’s favor. Congress conservatives have shot down this and other compromises and seem to be hellbent on keeping D.C. out of Congress.

So what if D.C. became a state today, what would happen? First, the Democrats would gain a Senate majority and strengthen their hold on the House of Representatives. The new state would most likely remain firmly liberal for years to come and would be an all-but-guaranteed democratic vote in all elections. But more important than what side the vote goes to, more than half a million currently unrepresented people will finally get a voice in Congress that they have the right to as U.S citizens. The people of D.C. have been unheard and suppressed for far too long.  Making D.C. a state would rectify the decades of suppression suffered by its residents. There is only one true way forward.