DC Statehood News: Debunking The Myths Of Making The Nation's Capital A State

This past Tuesday Democratic Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton announced her support of Washington DC's struggle to become the 51st state. Three weeks earlier, Candidate Bernie Sanders and 17 other senators voiced the same sentiment, co-sponsoring a bill entitled the New Columbia Admission Act. In 2014 President Barack Obama expressed his support as well, explaining at a press conference that since DC residents pay taxes and are citizens of the United States, "They should be represented like everybody else." As Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) begins to campaign once again for the New Columbia Admission Act, support from such presidential hopefuls is incredibly uplifting and necessary.

For readers unfamiliar with the fight for DC statehood- welcome to the conversation. Washington D.C. is an incredibly diverse metropolis, with more than half a million residents, growing every year. Although seated in the heart of the nation, DC residents have no voting representative in Congress. DC vote activists have been fighting for many years to secure a voice for Washingtonians, however Congress has never approved the motion. Here are the top myths about DC statehood, and why you should join the cause to #FreeDC.

DC is Too Small To Be A State

Actually, DC's population is currently 658,893 residents. This means that DC residents outnumber those of Vermont (626,562) and Wyoming (582, 153). Additionally, DC and 8 other states have populations of less than one million, making its size not unusual to be considered state worthy. The Senate was created to ensure that all states, regardless of population receive equal and adequate representation in government. However, more than half a million DC residents are wrongfully left out of this equation. Furthermore, there currently are more district residents that are military personnel than in 27 of the other states in the country. These members of the military cannot elect congressional members, who have the final say in their own deployment. This means that a DC resident can risk their life for their country, without having any input in whether or not the government declares war.

Giving DC Statehood Would Be Unconstitutional

Although this is widely believed, it's simply not the case. The only true limit stated in the Constitution sets a maximum for DC land area at 100 square miles, however it does not mention a minimum (US Const. Art. I, S 8). The New Columbia Admission Act would decrease the capital to solely the non-residential ceremonial area including federal and military office buildings. The remaining area would then be renamed New Columbia, and become eligible for statehood.

DC Residents Have Just As Much Freedom As Other Citizens

This is sadly very far from the truth. The Constitution gives Congress legislative authority over DC, which has enabled it to modify local government structure, appoint DC mayors (until 1973), oversee courts and prison systems, change DC's local budget, and annul any law it disagrees with. Since DC is 75 percent democratic district and the current Majority Party in Congress is the GOP, it is inevitable that conflicts of interests will occur. Recently Congress attempted to block Mayor Muriel Bowser's action to legalize marijuana despite a whooping 70 percent of DC residents voting for the motion. Congress even threatened Mayor Bowser with jail time in a strongly worded letter. Furthermore, Congress recently inserted language in the federal budget to bar DC from enforcing a local law to prevent reproduction related discrimination in the workplace, and LGBTQ discrimination. Congress consistently works to upend DC's voted upon laws, something that is not (and should not) be tolerated by any other state.

DC Residents Leach off US taxpayers

That would be nice. Unfortunately-or fortunately- DC residents pay taxes that are sent to Congress and then appropriated back to the district. Although Congress uses many of DC public services (for example, a huge number of the DC police force), it does not pay taxes on DC land used, is exempt from PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes), and also exempts commuters from paying entrance taxes. These combined funds would give DC more than one billion dollars every year, and let the government lower the impossibly high taxes on businesses and individuals. Additionally, DC citizens pay full federal taxes and the highest per capita taxes in the nation. On every DC license plate, the motto "Taxation Without Representation" is printed, reminding all DC residents that despite such heavy monetary costs, DC residents remain voiceless in Congress.

If DC residents Want Statehood They Can just Move

This sentiment, finally, is offensive. DC is a beautiful, diverse and multicultural city. It is also home to many liberal residents, whose political interests do not necessarily align with those of Maryland or Virginia. Instead of advising residents to move to neighboring states in order to achieve representation, Congress should approve the New Columbia Admission Act. Washington, D.C. remains the only capital in the democratic world where residents do not have complete control over their local affairs nor voting representation on a national scale. DC can no longer continue to be wrongfully punished and denied a vote. "Taxation Without Representation" is neither democratic nor American- do your part to change it.

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