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DC Statehood: Death of a Movement?

Anise Jenkins is one of the last of the true believers, the hardcore activists for D.C. statehood who eschew half measures and pine for the only solution to the District's disenfranchisement that would put D.C. residents on a par with all other Americans.

Jenkins is appalled--"shocked, disappointed and angered" is how she puts it--that when voters go to the polls next week, they will find that only one of the seven candidates for the symbolic posts of Shadow U.S. Representative and Shadow U.S. Senator even mentions the word "statehood" in his official statement in the D.C. voters guide.

"Don't they know their history?" Jenkins demands. "As a result of the DC Statehood Constitutional Convention held in 1982, the people of Washington, DC elected two Statehood senators and one representative to lobby Congress. Three candidates were elected in 1990, DC Representative Charles Moreland and DC Statehood Senators Florence Pendleton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. These positions were created solely and very specifically to lobby the United States Congress for DC statehood. This method of lobbying to become a state had been used before. As then Senator Jesse Jackson said: ''Eight states have used the Tennessee Plan...a plan to elect statehood senators to petition the government for admission as a state. All eight states succeeded.''

Jenkins reminds this year's candidates that they are obliged to believe in statehood because the job they seek exists only to advocate for that solution to the District's lack of voting rights. "It's the law, folks!" she writes.

But in fact, the statehood movement is virtually dormant. It has been superceded by much more realistic and much more exciting endeavors, as a cluster of advocacy groups, joined by Republican Congressman Tom Davis of Virginia, have focused on the actually plausible goal of winning a real seat in the House of Representatives for the District. Davis's bill would grant the District and Utah each a new seat in the House; the idea is to create a politically neutral solution, with the Democrats getting a virtually assured seat in Washington while the GOP gets one in Utah.

Should Davis's bill pass, D.C. residents would then have to focus on winning representation in the Senate. And there are still lots of folks who believe that the ultimate solution is some form of retrocession, with the bulk of the District returning to Maryland, leaving a small federal core downtown as the constitutionally-mandated District. That's the real future of the statehood movement, not the pie in the sky hopes of a group of activists whose beliefs and methods seem all too fixed in the 1970s.

Jenkins is of course right about the roots and purpose of the shadow positions that are on next week's ballot. And she's right to note that this year's candidates for those positions don't even bother to pay lip service to the idea of statehood. What they do focus on is something that is actually attainable--voting representation for D.C. residents. And that's something worth coming out of the shadows for.

By Marc Fisher |  September 8, 2006; 7:52 AM ET
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"And she's right to note that this year's candidates for those positions don't even bother to pay lip service to the idea of statehood. What they do focus on is something that is actually attainable--voting representation for D.C. residents."
Actually it is unobtainable. To quote the Constitution which explicitly covers such things:

"The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."

Representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate is reserved for the states. Period. End of story. The District is not a state. To gain representation one of either two things need to happen: The Contitution must be changed or the Distict must become a state.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 8:43 AM

One other thing:

The district could be ceded back to Maryland.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 8:54 AM

I wonder if the Jenkins' of the world do more harm than good for this cause.

Posted by: Ryan | September 8, 2006 8:58 AM

"The district could be ceded back to Maryland."

No!!!!! Virginia can have it.

Posted by: Maryland | September 8, 2006 8:59 AM

Whether or not statehood is politically obtainable or even wise, what is so discouraging is how difficult it is to get even well-informed and progressive people outside DC to take this issue seriously.

Voting rights is a basic civil rights issue, not just some sort of government benefit that can be bargained away in back rooms. We have gone to war for it. We claim to promote it in countries around the world.

Yet mention the subject to even sophisticated people almost anywhere else in the US, and you get a shrug. It's not even that they agree or disagree with full voting rights for Americans citizens living in DC -- they just don't care. The indifference is dismaying.

It is too easy to dismiss it as racist. Some of it is, but many of these people wouldnt even be able to tell you the racial makeup of the District. And it isn't even partisan; in my experience, the indifference extends to Democrats.

I can only attribute it to the widespread notion that (1) hardly anyone actually lives in the District, and (2) our nation's capital belongs to all Americans, an idea that gets embedded somewhere around the second grade.

How do we get Americans to perceive this not as merely a political issue but a fundamental civil rights issue? Any ideas?

Posted by: Meridian | September 8, 2006 9:10 AM

The District has as much right to be a state as Wyoming- it has more people than Wyoming and D.C. didn't give us Dick Cheney. The strange thing to me is that the Democrats held both houses of Congress for years and never thought to give themselves two more Senators and a Representative. It would have been so easy in the 60's.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | September 8, 2006 9:12 AM

Retrocession is the only solution that makes sense -- it's the only option that doesn't require constitutional gymnastics. What most DC residents don't know is that we basically have already severed the federal portion of the city from the residential portion. When home rule was established, a "zone of federal control" was established around the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court. That area is not under the control of the DC goverment, but run by the feds. Since that partition has already been made, it makes no sense for the residential part of the city to not be part of a state. From a constitutional perspective, the only solution that makes any sense is to return those people to the state they came from.

Oh, and I'm going to get pre-emptive here -- please spare us the comments that anyone who would vote for Marion Barry doesn't deserve the right to vote.

Posted by: Retrocessionist | September 8, 2006 9:13 AM

Retrocession has been done before - the District once encompassed land on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and that area was ceded back to Virginia. It is eminently appropriate to cede Maryland land back to Maryland - and that's the ONLY way to get DC residents representation in the Senate.

Posted by: B | September 8, 2006 9:31 AM

I'll become a Marylander if that means I get two senators and a rep and get to stay in this city. anything to be participating in a real democracy.

Posted by: mc | September 8, 2006 9:32 AM

"Retrocession is the only solution that makes sense"

Actually, retrocession was seriously suggested during the 80s and vigerously opposed by Maryland. Partly because Baltimore did not want to lose influence in the state but mostly because the city was a cess pool under Barry. Objectively, the city has improved beyond measure but Baltimore will still object.

Personally, I think the statehood efforts would be better directed to overcoming Baltimore's objections and gaining acceptance in Annapolis. PG and Montgomery counties could be approached as potential allies.

Posted by: Woodbridge Va | September 8, 2006 9:45 AM

Somehow, I don't see Maryland legislators keen on the idea of getting DC schools counted on their statistics. We argue quite often enough on trying to fix Baltimore's schools. Not to mention the assorted other costs of trying to integrate the District into Maryland. Retrocession is DOA, frankly.

Constitutional amendment (not statehood) is probably the only way to go. Put in a requirement that every state MUST vote on the amendment within four years. I think lack of action is what doomed the last amendment attempt.

Posted by: tallbear | September 8, 2006 10:25 AM

Good God, we don't want that piece of feces! What a drain that would be!

The reason that nobody cares about the right of DC residents to vote (and I think that Meridian's evaluation is correct) is because DC has historically been a crime infested pit of crap. Why should DC residents have the right to vote in the house and senate when they can't even manage their own town?

Posted by: Another Marylander | September 8, 2006 10:25 AM

Cede it in to Maryland an we can name it Swamp County. Or The Red-Headed Step Child County.

Posted by: We don't want DC | September 8, 2006 10:38 AM

Another Marylander writes: "Why should DC residents have the right to vote in the house and senate when they can't even manage their own town?"

The same old stupid question. The answer: Because they're citizens of the United States.

Is it clear that DC is more poorly managed than every other city in the country? Whether it is or not, should we base voting rights on the quality of each city's mayor or council? Should we re-evaluate that every 4 years? Every 2 years? In some years you're allowed to vote, in other years you're not? Did I miss that in the Constitution?

For years, similar stupid reasoning was offered for keeping major league baseball out of DC: the city can't support a team (although when it had a team it supported it for decades as well as many other cities); the stadium is in a "bad" neighborhood (as though every major league stadium was in a "good" neighborhood); and DC doesn't need a team when Baltimore is so close (although, strangely, that didn't seem to apply to cities that had *two* teams or to metropolitan areas that had smaller populations than metropolitan DC).

What ignorance! What close-mindedness! What arrogance! What short-sightedness!

Posted by: jaded (a Marylander) | September 8, 2006 11:00 AM

How about giving Delegate Holmes Norton full voting rights on the House floor? It will allow her to fully participate in the House. (I should say, I'm from Maryland)

Posted by: Elisa | September 8, 2006 11:24 AM

And I'm not a DC resident because I refuse to live in a city as a second class citizen of my country.

It is an abomination that DC residents do not have voting representation.

The other fair solution would be to stop taxing them. As the license plates say -- taxation without representation.

And we all know that "Taxation without representation is tyranny."

I would move to DC in a second if it did have voting representation -- my refusal to live there is purely political.

Posted by: Not a DC resident | September 8, 2006 11:32 AM

How about VA and MD ceding the suburbs to DC for statehood?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 11:46 AM

To Marylander:

You're so cliche. Please, like Maryland is any better? Maryland's pride and joy, Montgomery County, is quickly becoming a run-down cesspool of its own. Have you seen Wheaton? Germantown? Most of Gaithersburg? Heck, even MS-13 has set up shop in Maryland -- not DC! I'd feel safer walking down South Capitol Street at 2:30 AM than in any of those suburban ghettos! And I'm just talking about Montgomery County. Don't get me started on the other gems!

And let's talk about money. Ward 3 alone has more of it than the majority of Maryland counties.

Enjoy your gridlock, strip malls and gang violence 'cause that's all you got!

Posted by: Washingtonian | September 8, 2006 11:50 AM

The idea of statehood for DC has nothing to do with the notion that the city is badly run so it sholdn't be a state. Let's do away with that bogus idea right now.

There is a simple reason DC is not a state: no one in this city gives a flying f*ck to take action and actually do something to make this an issue.

We could organize an effort to refuse to pay taxes. The City could stop providing security support etc. to the government. We could start charging property tax for the White House. The DC Democratic and Republican Parties could actually get off it's butt and make this an issue by staging a walk-out during the 2008 Conventions.

But none of this happens because everyone in DC either doesn't care or is reluctant to give up their Idaho drivers license or some other kind of b.s. (This too could be remedied at the City level by passing a lwa stating that DC resients need to have their cars registered in DC, with DC tages and have a DC license.)

We've become a city, a nation, indeed a society, that is either extremist or apathetic.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 11:51 AM

Actually, we could give back the entire city--lock, stock, and White House--back to Maryland. There is no constitutional mandate for a federal district--just a power given to Congress to rule one if they choose to have one. The capital of the U.S. should be Washington, Maryland, just like the capital of Canada is Ottawa, Ontario.

And it's not prestige that Maryland would gain. Compare D.C.'s average (not median) per capita income to Maryland's. It's pretty darn good and getting better all the time, while PG and some other parts of Maryland are going down hill. Maryland should step up to the plate and take Washington back before it's too late.

Posted by: Rick in Maryland | September 8, 2006 12:35 PM

I meant to say it's not JUST prestige that Maryland would gain.

Posted by: Rick in Maryland | September 8, 2006 12:40 PM

Amen, Rick in Maryland! I too agree that Maryland would have much to gain by taking back DC.

The tiresome notion that the city is awful and the suburbs are wonderful may have been true a few decades ago, but clearly, this is no longer the case. I don't have enough fingers to count the number of hellish suburban armpits that have sprung up over the last 10 years. These places are just plain gross!

The quality of life in the District, on the other hand, has improved tremendously and the demographics prove it -- not to mention the culture, architecture, sophistication, convenience and 10-minute work-day commutes.

And the next time I'm stuck in traffic in Montgomery Village (ghetto on a golf course), Maryland, remind me to roll up my windows and lock my doors.

DC rules!

Posted by: Washingtonian | September 8, 2006 12:57 PM

"And the next time I'm stuck in traffic in Montgomery Village (ghetto on a golf course), Maryland, remind me to roll up my windows and lock my doors."

Yeah, like there is no crime in DC. Let's just look the other way to the fact that DC is in a crime state of emergency. Some of the youth is so out of control that a curfew was implemented. BTW, why are you afraid to drive through Montgomery Village? Are you afraid that a Hispanic or a black person will look at you?

Posted by: MoCo, MD | September 8, 2006 1:17 PM

"The City could stop providing security support etc. to the government. We could start charging property tax for the White House."
Strangely enough, this sentiment illustrates the potential downside of giving the District statehood in one form or another. By being a separate entity, Washington is effectively governed by the federal government itself. If it were a state, or part of a state, there is the risk that the federal government would need to appease state regulators and live by state law. This would give a single state some measure of control over the federal government. That could be a very bad thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 1:38 PM

DC wouldn't get a representative with Retrocession to Maryland, DC is so small that they'd only get 4/5ths of a congressman.

Face it. DC is too small to be taken seriously. They can't even elect a "statehood" slate to the Electoral College. With Mark Plotkin as the intellectual giant of DC Statehood, the misguided project remains doomed.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 2:30 PM


Do control the air force and naval bases housed in thosse states? OF course not. Don;t be silly.

The point I was making was that there are certain radical actions the City could take to force the federal government to consider seriously D.C. statehood.

Imagine what would happen if the Chief of Police said that no D.C. police would be available for motorcades until D.C. statehood gets a vote.

They'd have to take it sertiously.

Similarly, what would happen if D.C. presented a property tax bill to the federal government for agecnies, departments, even the White House and went to court in an attempt to collect?

The gov't would have to explore it's options.

You're being far too literal in what I am writing. My point is that there are actions that the City could take to force the government to the table to finally consider statehood.

All it takes is sheer will and courage enough not to blink first.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 2:33 PM

DC may have high percapita income, but eventually the young lawyers move to the suburbs and have kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 2:44 PM

Glover Park:

Wait a minute, you don't think there's a large amount of political wrangling over the fate of military bases?

You're advocating that DC, the home of the federal government, should attempt to take advantage of that fact so that it could harm the federal government in order to force the federal government to do DC's bidding.

Presently, this threat is largely nullified because DC is effectively a federal government construct and as such ultimately controlled by the feds. If it were a state, however, the threat would suddenly have teeth.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 3:03 PM

Another Marylander:

If good government were a requirement for voting rights, over time nearly every town would lose their rights.

NYC was in receivership in the 70s.

Detroit ran itself into the ground.

San Diego is currently embroiled in scandal and fiscal ineptitude.

City after city has had scandals and poor government, just like DC has. And dang few of them have had the structural imbalance forced on DC. I'd like to see NYC and other major cities get by without being able to tax the surrounding bedroom communities.... yet, DC is somehow expected to do so, after having had the surrounding localities dump most of their poor in DC for 100 years....

Yet all those places that have had terrible local governments get to vote. And I don't see you calling for their voting rights to be taken away.

Voting rights are just that - rights. It's not a privilege. DC residents have paid for that right with their blood, in wartime. Plus, of course, our taxes.

So enough with the 'your government is bad' so you don't get to vote. That's a bogus argument, selectively applied, and really has no merit.

Posted by: Hillman | September 8, 2006 3:26 PM

You're being far too literal in what I am writing. My point is that there are actions that the City could take to force the government to the table to finally consider statehood.

All it takes is sheer will and courage enough not to blink first.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 02:33 PM


And this is one of the main arguments *AGAINST* statehood for DC. The federal government needs to be able to operate independently of the various states. If the district were awarded statehood, they would have an unfair advantage over the federal government. The problem with statehood is that there is a very long list of rights and responsibilities awarded to states that cannot be granted to the district. Many of those issues would make running the federal government (the original purpose of creating the district) difficult or impossible. Granting the rights of states to the district would be essentially allowing the district to legally blackmail the federal government into making favorable decisions for the "state." No state should have these powers over the federal government.

I agree with the requirement for voter representation to avoid taxation without representation, but statehood is not the answer. Either, district residents should be given voter representation in either Maryland or Virginia or a Constitutional amendment needs to be created to allow the district to send elected representation to the legislature.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 8, 2006 3:29 PM

The idea that if DC became a state it could somehow bully the federal government is ludicrous. I'm absolutely certain that any granting of statehood or voting rights to DC would be crafted in such as a way as to make clear that all Fed land in DC (and that's a bunch) remains totally under Fed control.

And, lest we forget, the Feds have imminent domain powers over nearly everything as is, regardless of 'state sovereignty'. That's how the federal highway system and most of our military bases have been built, whether the states liked it or not.

The DC as bully argument is a red herring at best.

Posted by: Hillman | September 8, 2006 3:30 PM

I too agree that statehood isn't feasible. It's just too hot button of an issue.

I'd be perfectly fine with just the vote. Or if I could stop paying federal taxes. Either or.

Frankly, too many Americans just aren't keen on giving a majority-black District the title of State.

Posted by: Hillman | September 8, 2006 3:32 PM


Thanks for revealing the 'DC as bully' argument for what it is: a red herring. But as I say, it can also effectively be used as a bargaining chip. The whole ends and means construct...

Also, I firmly agree with you that if we don;t get statehood then I am happy to stop paying federal taxes instead. Seems like a good idea to me.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 3:40 PM

1. How can the district as bully argument be a red herring when someone is actually suggesting that be the course of action for the district to get to get the vote in the first place?

2. I would argue that the majority of Americans are not even aware that the District is majority black, I think that is an actual red herring.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 8, 2006 3:56 PM

What part of the term 'bargaining chip' do you not understand?

You took me advocacy of being a bully to force the gov't to the table and commit to a vote on statehood to the illogical conclusion that DC would run roughshod over the gov't when it became a state.

For the last time, please try to understand the distinction between a bargaining tactic and real life.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 4:12 PM

Glover Park--I do understand the difference. The problem is that anything that can be used as a bargaining chip once can be used thus again. The federal government needs to preserve its independence from the states for various reasons. If it comes to a disagreement or dispute between the district and MD or VA (or any other state for that matter), the district *COULD* put pressure on the federal government to weigh in on their side. Just as the same pressure could be put on the feds to recognize statehood, it could be put on the feds to get another later decision to be weighed in their favor. (or used to get a larger portion of the federal budget in future years, or used to get primary services in the district before other perhaps needier areas, etc).

Although I do recognize the difference between a bargaining tactic and real life, I also recognize that what could be a bargaining tactic once could be so again (and again, and again...) So do politicians and that is one reason that statehood is not a viable solution. Plus, politicians and beaurocrats are notorious for using whatever means are within their reach to get pressure for their pet projects (look at the exponentially increasing number of earmarks annually).

However, this doesn't mean that we aren't sympathetic to the issue of taxation without representation, just that some of us don't agree that statehood is the answer.

Posted by: DadWannaBe | September 8, 2006 4:22 PM

I'm not sure what earmarks or the rest of diversionary arguments that you offer have to do with the simple notion of statehood.

You seems to be worried about all kinds of things that haven't happened yet and may never happen. Me? I'm worried about how to achieve the goal of statehood.

To that end I am prepared achieve that goal, as Malcolm X said, by any means necessary.

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 4:43 PM

If states can somehow bully the Feds, why are VA and MD denied statehood? After all, the butt right up against the Federal City, and they are chock full of Federal land and agencies. Yet those federal agencies clearly retain total self control. Sure, they often try to work with the State govt, but when push comes to shove the Feds get what they want.

Witness the recent Fed decision to add all those jobs down past Fort Belvoir. The State is apparently adamantly opposed but the Feds don't seem to care.

That's exactly what would happen if DC were a state. Just like what MD and VA do currently.

And I can't speak for all Americans, but everyone I've ever spoken to knows DC is majority black. In fact, many think it's roughly 98% black, and they all think Marion Barry is still Mayor.

Posted by: Hillman | September 8, 2006 4:44 PM

More on the DC as bully thing.....

Two words..... The Pentagon.

Does anyone actually think the Federal government kowtows to VA when it comes to anything relating to the Pentagon? Sure, they may discuss matters with State and local officials, but when push comes to shove the Feds are going to get what they want.

And let's not forget there are 100 Senators and over 400 Congressmen. If for some reason DC representatives were dead set on making some big stink over relations with the Feds, it has to pass muster with the entire Senate and House.

Posted by: Hillman | September 8, 2006 4:47 PM

Here's another tidbit:

It is estimated that were the White House to be sold on the real estate ,arket the asking price would be approx. $106 million.

The point I ahve been trying to make is imagine the p.r. and political value toward the statehood issue if D.C. were to present the Feds with a property tax bill on that $106 million gem at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Now do you understand what I mean when I talk about bullying the federal government?

Posted by: Glover Park | September 8, 2006 4:52 PM

Sorry for the typos in my previous posts. I curse the WP for not having Spellcheck and Grammarcheck in these chat forums.... I meant to ask why VA and MD are NOT denied statehood.....

Plus, it's been a long week of being a substandard American, what with being a DC resident and all. I've been so busy being a second-class American that I've gotten lazy with my typing skills.

Posted by: Hillman | September 8, 2006 4:55 PM

This is Mike Panetta, I am running in the Democratic primary on Tuesday for the position of Shadow/Statehood Representative.

First of all, let me paste what it says on my web site about my stance on statehood:

"The ideal situation for the District of Columbia is for it to become a state. There are rights that are inherently granted to, and reserved for, the states in the Constitution and anything short of statehood would deny the District these rights. Now, of course, getting statehood is a very, very long struggle and is not politically possible in the short-term, so I do not subscribe to a 'statehood or nothing' mentality. However, I do think statehood is the best long-term solution to our lack of Congressional representation."

If I am elected, I plan on using the office to build a grassroots network of supporters of DC statehood and/or voting rights OUTSIDE of the District. Anyway we change our situation we'll have to go through Congress, and we'll need a lot of friends around the country to make it happen. Feel free to come to my site at and comment on my blog with your ideas and thoughts.

-Mike Panetta

Posted by: Mike Panetta - Candidate for Shadow Rep. | September 8, 2006 5:28 PM

Mike Panetta, aren't politician wannabe's supposed to pay for their campaign efforts? Take out a paid ad.

Posted by: Get Outta This Chat! | September 8, 2006 8:55 PM

So I guess politicos should only communicate via advertising...isn't that sort of the problem with politics these days?

Sorry "Get Outta This Chat", but blogs allow readers and those being written about to add their own two cents to the discussion. And, since I'm one of candidates being discussed in the opening post, I do think it's very appropriate.

Hey, at least I'm not posting under 27 differnet aliases like a certain Johnathan Rees - those of us in Ward 3 know what I taking about :)

Posted by: Mike Panett for Shadow Representative | September 8, 2006 11:53 PM

Move the captial to Topeka and give DC back to Maryland.

Posted by: Not in Kansas Anymore | September 11, 2006 11:19 AM

I'm a retrocession fan too. District residents deserve a voice and vote in both the US House and Senate and also a state legislature to participate in. It's way too costly and inefficient for a City to perform State functions. I'd love to have the District join Maryland. DC would would be a political power-house in the State and join Baltimore in addressing inner City problems. We'd all have one big diverse Democratic state with two important urban areas with two powerful urban mayors. I'm a native Washingtonian by the way. I think real voting rights, democracy, and freedom from Congressional intervention in City affairs is a lot more important than the "dream" of statehood. Real Democracy is good enough for me. U.S Senator Norton sounds good too.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 11, 2006 3:45 PM

I think broad-based tax protest would do it. Let's see the feds take the PR heat after they try to arrest a *large* number of DCers for not paying fed taxes. There's good patriotic precident here.

Posted by: Mark | September 12, 2006 12:31 AM

The absence of full voting representation for DC residents is a national disgrace. Republicans and Democrats are culpable.

To those in this chat who think DC residents don't deserve it or haven't earned it ... come on. Grow up and get real. That's so 18th century.

Mike Panetta has the right idea and more power to him and those of us who have been lobbying Congress to give to us what every American deserves and expects: equal voting representation in both Houses.

To the Mark Fischer and the Washington Post: please don't tell us to be so patronizing and tell DC folks to be "realistic." I don't see the Davis plan as a giant leap forward. The Davis plan for establishing a vote for DC's delegate and a new seat for Utah can be taken away as easily as it is given; Utah doesn't deserve an extra vote anyway (and it would likely negate a DC vote on many issues); and it says/does nothing about Senate representation. I'll keep expecting and demanding what DC residents deserve and won't suffer fools or ignorant out of staters gladly.

Posted by: Daryl in DC | September 12, 2006 9:24 PM

No constitutional ammendment is needed at all to bring about justice for DC residents. Not one of the legislative steps leading to and including statehood for the residents of Washington would require one letter of change in the Constitution. Any reading of Article I Sec.8 para.17 will instruct that the District may be any size they want it to be up to 10 miles square, and it may be a lot smaller. It doesn't even have to exist.

The District, by simple act of congress, can be reduced in size to include only the National Capital Service Area, leaving the remainder to be Washington, Territory of New Columbia. We would be a geo-political body similar to Puerto Rico and the several other U.S. territories, only we'd be really close to the District, but expelled from it. One person I know (mikeyb) would say that we will have expelled them, the Congress and the District from Washington rather than the other way around. We could then enjoy our lives and compete with and as do the other semi-autonomous U.S. territories for statehood.

No, we don't need any amendment, what we need is resolve.

The first order of business is to get off our butts and organize, engage. Stay angry at Congress, the President and the rest of the country, if they aren't with us. We must demand equality, everyday.

We should be in their face constantly, and we must always make them to feel uncomfortable and defensive in their condescending and paternalistic dealings with us. The notion that the city of Washington belongs to the rest of the country is ridiculous, not simply because they don't in fact pay for it, but especially because many of them take it so literally, so colonially.

We are not yesteryear's chattel of the federal district's elite and landed. We will not be owned, operated, nor overlorded by a master government to whom we do not give consent. If our mothers and fathers who were the activists of the 40's, 50's and 60's had fought for their rights "realistically," we'd still be in the 40's and 50's.

I'm not going hat-in-hand asking for voting rights. I'm a first-class citizen who is being discriminated against by my government, and I have almost 600,000 co-victims. The first and most important crime is not the denial of voting rights, but the denial of the right to self-govern. That is a kind of serfdom, a colony. Our Council can't make any truly binding laws, and we can't determine how our tax dollars are spent or how and where our criminals go to jail. There's a lot more stuff like that. How are we going to change this crap with just 3 votes in congress, let alone with the one vote that Davis/Norton's HR5388 would slip to us? Isn't it really about shutting many of us up with a small slice of democracy bread that can go stale while they enrich the GOP loaf at the electoral college banquet? Huh?

Somebody needs to organize the Million Washingtonians March to proclaim our denied equality. We can all go there to seek atonement for our lack of zeal in pursuing our rights. And to bring charges!

This fight is NOT about voting rights. It's about CIVIL, HUMAN rights.

First freed, last free!

Posted by: Washingtonian Malcolm | September 13, 2006 6:33 PM

A constitutional amendment is not needed for statehood, only the setting aside of a federal enclave (which has been done in the New Columbia Constitution) and will likely need to be redone as people live there - people who live on bases that would inherit DC's 3 electoral votes plus and voting rights in the House and Senate awarded here.

The Davis bill is actually not a path to retrocession. Note that many of the commenters here show that DC would not be wanted by Maryland (like changing the boundary lines would somehow change any of the physical circumstances). Although, it would change the composition of the General Assembly. There would certainly be more color in Annapolis. I think it is most likely that the MD GOP would realize that retrocession would been Steele and Erlich would never get a chance again, so the Davis Bill will not lead to retro.

How do we get the powers that be to take notice. It is actually quite easy. Organize a petition drive to EXPELL CONGRESS. You don't actually have to have the vote, just fight the certain opposition by the Justice Department to the District's right to consider the question. It would raise all the issues that Anise Jenkins' and Washingtonian's lawsuit, Adams v. Bush, tried to raise (but the Government and Courts ignored). They could not ignore an effort at expelling them. The key to any revolution is making your oppressor look like an oppressor. A vote to expell Congress would do just that. See more on my blog at

Posted by: Michael Bindner | September 13, 2006 10:58 PM

One last thing. DC is not the cesspool it once was. Many of our most violent (due to poverty) are now in PG County, which is spots is actually worse than DC. MD pays better TANF benefits - DC lowered its benefits for just that reason when Barry was Mayor and Cropp was Council Chair (and before that Human Services Chair). Of course, DC was never a cesspool. Most of it resembles much of America. Most of MLK Ave looks like a street in Dubuque, Iowa. There are a few bad neighborhoods around public housing, but you can find those anywhere because children are being raised without fathers, so they seek guidance in gangs. Allow families with fathers into public housing and discipline will be restored.

Posted by: Michael Bindner | September 13, 2006 11:03 PM

Anise Jenkins, president of the Stand Up! for Democracy in D.C. Coalition, reminded this year's candidates for "shadow" representative and senator that they were obliged to believe in full democracy for DC residents because the elective office they sought exists only to advocate for DC statehood. I was "shocked, disappointed, and angered" at Marc Fisher's apparent disdain for the hardcore statehood activist's unwavering political beliefs. Unlike Fisher, Jenkins has put blood, toil, tears, and sweat into the movement for self-determination for Washingtonians -- native and nouveaux alike. Jenkins understands that the "District of Columbia Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act of 2006" is a half-baked political measure -- amounting to not much more than the latest Republican scam. H.R. 5388 is not all that it appears to be. Congressman Tom Davis (R-Va.) drafted up a bill that not only gives the state of Utah and the District a voting member in the U.S. House of Representatives -- it also gives Utah extra political clout with another Electoral College vote. Last week's congressional hearing exposed the bill as being in conflict with the U.S. Constitution -- as thousands of Utah residents may gain twofold representation with an additional at-large House member. That's hardly the "politically neutral solution" that Fisher believes it to be. Fisher deemed the hope of "winning" one seat in the House as an "actually plausible goal," and yet he hasn't fully researched the bill and all it entails. Far too many activists and members of the media believe that DC can take a short-cut on the long and winding road to achieving congressional voting rights in the House and Senate. Only a desperate and lazy populace would settle for such half measures with so little staying power. Lest we forget: What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away -- whenever it sees fit. For whatever reason, Fisher believes that he can foresee "the real future of the statehood movement," which appears to be a well-heeled advocacy group that focuses on legislation that is allegedly attainable -- but constitutionally forbidden. It's particularly telling that Fisher is impressed by the "much more realistic and much more exciting endeavors" of a well-funded organization that pays its executive director -- who lives in Montgomery County -- a six-figure salary. In all fairness, supporting dead-end, half-a-loaf legislation and mounting posters lamenting the disenfranchisement of District voters on bus shelters may appeal to the more conservative. Working with DCPS teachers appears to be the most interesting and worthwhile effort put forth by Fisher's favorite democracy group. But volunteer activists with "beliefs and methods [that] seem all too fixed in the 1970s" might prefer to be more daring by publicly protesting, participating in nonviolent civil disobedience, paying federal taxes with big checks -- or not paying them at all. Demanding one's basic civil rights by risking arrest, standing trial, and facing monetary fines and jail time isn't for the faint of heart. Indeed, every lawsuit filed and every bill marked up continues to show us the straightest shot to achieving our goal -- either retrocession/reunion with Maryland or DC statehood. The statehood movement may appear to be "virtually dormant," but I believe that it's just a sleeping giant. Perhaps, some day soon we will be redrawing the District line between the actual federal enclave and New Columbia. Until then, I, too, will stick to "pie in the sky" hopes of achieving equal democratic rights that are constitutionally protected, as well as budget, judicial, and legislative autonomy for the District. And I sincerely hope that my democratic principles, ideas of fairness, and expectations for regaining my human rights are never superseded by the mature practicality and realism that Fisher extols. FREE DC -- Statehood Now! Democratically yours, Karen A. Szulgit

Posted by: kas | September 22, 2006 4:40 PM


First, I want to thank you for responding to my letter to those aspiring candidates who aspire to the elective office of DC Statehoood Rep. or Senator without either mentioning or truly supporting the statehood strategy of getting full American citizenship (not just voting rights) for the people living in DC. (Although Phil Panell said they didn't print his full statement.)

But, that's all the thanks I can send your way. You misused my passion for full citizenship and turned it into an opportunity to promote your desire for retroceeding DC back to Maryland. You did not mention that retrocession has consistently come in at the bottom of any poll with DC residents as a solution to our constitutional crisis. You say that the DC statehood movement is dying....well, it's not a natural death. There's the smell of arsenic and the swish of old lace! Local business interests have never supported DC statehood, suburbanites who work here and take out over a million dollars a day don't want to pay taxes to DC and the Washington Post has rarely mentioned the word statehood over the last 26 years, since DC voted for it. When it comes down to it, democracy means, we trust the people, we believe in the people and we respect the people, and DC residents, want full voting rights (House and Senate), they want locally elected or appointed judges in their courts, they want a local budget that comes in on time and is not held up by Congressional review, they want to decide whether DC will have a baseball stadium or a public hospital without White House or pressure from Congressmembers from Virginia or Oklahoma, or whevever. And they don't want it by joining Maryland! All the rights I listed all other American citizens have except for DC residents, take the federal buildings, take the White House, the Senate and the Capitol, and just give us what we want - it's statehood by any other name - and it smells so sweet!

Posted by: Anise Jenkins- Free DC! | September 28, 2006 2:34 PM

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