Sunday, April 22, 2007

Represent!

(committee chair)Drier: Will the gentlewoman yield?

Eleanor Holmes-Norton: I will not yield, sir. The District of Colombia has spent 206 years yielding to people who would deny them the vote. I yield you no ground. Not during my time. You have had your say, and your say has been that you think the people who live in your capital are not entitled to a vote in their House. Shame on you.
There are 600,000 people living in Washington, D.C. in what amounts to a political ghetto.

The odd anomaly of the District of Colombia is that it is not a state. It is a little land unto itself, carved out of Maryland and Virginia (which actually called give-backs some time ago). It has no senators and no vote in the house of representatives.

What it does have is one very determined delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and a chance at overcoming a centuries-long history of taxation without representation. The residents of Washington pay taxes, fight in wars, serve on juries. But they have never had a say in the process.

One significant hurdle has been cleared: H.R. 1905, the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007 passed the House on a virtual party-line vote. The premise is simple: Every U.S. citizen deserves representation in their government. Representation without a vote is disenfranchisement. H.R. 1905 will change that by giving their lone "delegate" a vote that gets counted.

What was the price? Another delegate for Utah. It boggles the mind (even after the last 6 years), but the GoP just didn't want to give the folks in DC a vote. Why? 'Cause they're mostly democrats. Let me emphasize this: They Had No Vote. What could possibly be more at odds with democracy? But rather than simply doing what's right, they forced a deal. "Fine. If you want DC to have a voice, then we want more congressmen from Utah." Depraved and cynical. And, I might add a phrase they love so much, unAmerican.

Every time you think irony is dead, the GoP comes up with a new one. In order to keep the process as unencumbered as possible, the Democrats blocked amendments to the bill. The GoP response? "Orwellian democracy," said Tom Price (R-Ga).

Republicans are also worried that this is just the beginning of the madness. After all, how long will it be before DC wants two Representatives? Ye Gads! Alaska, North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Delaware and Vermont all have one Rep. Something tells me that if Alaska ever wants another, you won't find the GoP out there in a tizzy, talking about Orwell and scrabbling for a copy of the Constitution at the bottom of their trash.

This bill will soon come before the Senate. Urge your Sentors to stitch up this gap in the civic fabric. Go to Free and Equal D.C. and register your support -- it only takes a few seconds. The true gift of democracy is its perfectability: keep the experiment alive for DC's residents. The measure has bipartisan sponsorship. It's a no-brainer.

Of course, the President has promised a veto. Sure as the sun comes up -- the man couldn't find his veto pen for 6 years. But wave the stench of actual rights and liberties at him and he'll burn it down in a hot minute.

5 comments:

little sister said...

your brother in law has been paying taxes without representation for years now, but that is a whole different kettle of fish. i keep telling him we should move to DC so he'll be amongst his people...

deadissue.com said...

Holmes is for real! This is such a striking example of how full of shit we really are...spreading democracy abroad? Really? REEEEEEAAAAALY? (spoken in the voice of Ari from Entourage on HBO)

deadissue.com said...

Hate to "blog pimp" (the KOS-types get uppity about that), but since Republicans used DC's weapon ban to torpedo the first attempt at this prior to Easter recess...I just finished a post on straw purchases and the gun control debate following the VT massacre. It occurred to me that I'd actually written about Virginia's gun laws in March on another site, and I decided to dig a bit further...

I'm an avid reader of George Pelencanos (fiction writer from DC), fan of that HBO show The Wire - and it is a topic that has meant a lot to me for a while now, here it is:

Arm Fratboys -or- Curb Straw Purchases?

Brown said...

DI:

Pimp away. Mi blog es su blog, as far as I'm concerned. Already read your Fratboys/Straw purchases piece. Nice (sad) bit of forecasting there.

Brown said...

Also, the issue is colorably constitutional in nature, as the ol' C says "representatives shall be elected by citizens of the several states."

So, literally, DC can't vote. Of course, literally, since militias are no longer necessary to the national defense, we all don't have gun rights anymore, either. But try getting a Gooper to bite down on that one and swallow...