Thursday, January 25, 2007

Taxation Without Representation

O.K. I reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia, so I can tell you that taxation WITH representation is no great shakes, either. Still, I accept the notion that taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.

But I'm continually amazed at what a hard sell it is to the rest of the country that D.C. having no voting representation in Congress is a denial of basic civil rights on an scale that ought to be embarrassing for a country that thinks itself the bestest darn democracy in the whole blessed world.

Most of the country may think that all D.C. residents are a part of the government, or that all the land is government land or that some other such wacky excuse exists for disenfranchising a jurisdiction with more population than three or four states.

If so, most of the country would be as wrong as a bachelor party where all the groom's buddies knit quilts, tat doilies and darn socks.

Or they may think that D.C. residents don't pay federal taxes so they shouldn't get federal representation. Wrong again. That's Puerto Rico, or Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Here in D.C., residents pay the same federal taxes as you and I do, just as happily.

And D.C.'s sons and daughters are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan and G-d only knows what other backwater quagmires our witless president has committed us to this week.

Two reasons stop D.C. voting in its tracks. One is bare-knuckled Republican opportunism. The other is a truly unseemly level of racist paternalism.

The D.C. voting population is 8 - 1 Democratic. Republicans simply refuse to permit electoral justice in the face of a result that would net the Dems 2 Senators and a Representative.

And when D.C. does vote, D.C. voters can be counted on, occasionally, to elect rogues. Marion Barry is the most obvious example, but, if you look into it we've also got less well-known buffoons in our recent electoral past. My favorites are, for chutzpah, former Councilman H.R. Crawford and, for truly outlandish demagoguery, former School Board members Valencia Muhammad and Calvin Lockridge. Don't ask.

But since when is electing fools and crooks sufficient reason to deny a population a vote in the legislature that taxes them. The Jack Abramoff scandal will take down a number of former and current congressmen before Canary Jack stops singing. Is anyone proposing to take the vote away from the residents of jailbird Rob Ney's former Ohio district?

How about disenfranchising Duke Cunningham's former San Diego constituents?

Did anyone ever suggest that Chicago ought not to be allowed to vote generations of Daleys into office, despite their propensity for attracting the multiple votes of rotting cadavers?

Hell, electing crooks is the state pastime in Louisiana. In the Eddie Edwards vs. David Duke Governor's race, there were bumper stickers that said "Vote for the Crook, It's Important."

(And it was. Duke was, and is, an avowed racist, an admirer of such notable organizations as the Ku Klux Klan, and a Holocaust denier, to boot. Now there's a trifecta for ya.)

Notice anything about the pigmentation of all the non-D.C. characters noted above? You've got it; they're all various shades of pink.

But let residents of Chocolate City agitate for voting rights in Congress and all of a sudden it's "Well, they really need to get their budget under control first" or "Do you think they're really ready for the responsibility?" or "Didn't they re-elect a damn fool Mayor who got caught smoking crack?"

It's Republicans and racists who are keeping hundreds of thousands of taxpaying American citizens from having a vote in the halls of Congress. It's just that simple.

Republicans who don't fall into the latter camp as well ought to be bloody embarrassed at the company they're keeping.


Rachel said...

I didn't know that they didn't have those voting rights. I thought that they voted along with Virginia. Don't know why I thought that but I just did.
I don't know why a city would be allowed 2 senators and a House Representatives. It seems a bit much but they should have at least some representation.

David in DC said...

The state population of Wyoming is 501,242. They get two Senators and one Congressman

The poulation of the District of Columbia is 563,384. We don't.

The facts are pretty stark.

Thank you for reading this Rachel. If more people outside the beltway knew DC residents were so effectively disenfranchised, I think it would help get some changes.

DC's ultimate goal is statehood; but DC officials try to work with what they can get.

Our non-voting Delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, tried to work out a compromise with the Republicans that gave her a full vote in the House in exchange for an extra seat in the House for Utah (as sure a Repub win as DC would be a Dem one.)

It's a kludge of a solution, but it reflects your idea: DC would get a single Representative but no Senator.

It died in the last Congress.

laughing said...

There's all this stuff in Virginia that we tend to think of as Washington, but actual Washington DC isn't officially part of any state, so they don't get any of that stuff.

There are a lot of government people in DC, but there are a lot who aren't. And there are all those people who have to take care of the government people. Government people have to go to the bank, and government people have to have their clothes dry cleaned, and government people have to have someplace to eat, and so on. But usually, people who work at the bank and the dry cleaners and the restaurants all get to vote for a state representative, but these particular people don't.

And then there are all the people who have to live in DC to take care of us tourists, and they don't get a vote either.

And a lot of those people are black and/or democrats.

Maybe a compromise and only get one senator. But there are a lot of people there, and I don't doubt they'd have enough for at least one guy in the House of Representatives, maybe more.