Of all the media sacred cows whose flatulence assails the populace, the editorial board of the Washington Post emits the most consistently repellent methane afflatus. It trades on a reputation for liberalism that does not pass anywhere with a greater population density than Podunk’s. Yet the Post’s local involvement is often even more egregiously wrong-headed than, say, its continuous cheerleading for the US’s Iraq military debacle.
In its defense the Post’s news department doesn’t always succumb to the editorial department’s lines. But the editorial department quite frequently ignores the news. Aside from that systemic failure, specific instances of mis-, mal-, sub- and non-feasance in Post editorials are sufficiently common that they crush anyone still awaiting leftist domination of multimillion dollar organs of public opinion.
Some may say that editorially the Post is at least better than the Washington Times. Unfortunately, such an assertion implies that the Times either values or practices objectivity, fairness, or dedication to any cause other than the greater glory of the Republican party. The Post’s mistakes are at any rate consistently bipartisan. They get both parties wrong whereas, giving color to suspicions of collusion, the Times is always right about the Republicans.
The Post’s latest editorial disfigurement of public discourse (“Without Further Delay,” Tuesday, December 5, 2006; Page A28) comes disguised as a good-government plea. In its plodding, misguided way, however, the Post imagines it is favoring a full vote for one District of Columbia member of the House of Representatives when it would also forever prevent DC’s US Senate representation.
Asking smugly, “Which congressional leader cares to explain why District voters should remain disenfranchised?” the Post also forgets that the 109th Congress’ Republican leadership has long adhered to the line that DC cannot be represented in either House or Senate because that is the way the District was set up 225 years ago. It is an article of Republican faith that, with full legislative power over DC vested in Congress, somehow Congress must not exercise that power in any way other than preventing a commuter tax, preventing DC referenda on legalized marijuana, preventing a needle-exchange program, or preventing DC firearms legislation.
The Post starts off grandly but soon stumbles. “THE PEOPLE of the District of Columbia shouldn't have to wait another minute, let alone another month, to get the full voting representation in government that is their due as Americans.” Only one problem. The DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act (H.R. 5388) does not provide “full voting representation in government.” Full voting representation would be a US House member (based on a 2000 Census population of 600,000) and two US Senators. In addition there would have to be a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Legislature (bi- or unicameral) and whatever other constitutional officers might be provided under the terms of admission as a State. There might even be a City government under the State, if the State decided to create one. But the Post’s use of the term, “full,” to modify “representation,” is obviously one with which the rest of the world is unfamiliar, plainly meaning as it does in this case, “partial.”
DC needs Statehood to achieve proper voting representation. One House member is a degrading and deficient compromise that prevents rather than implements complete political involvement. Remember H.R. 5388 was a Republican compromise intended to protect the party from Democratic Senators. After its inexorable demise while the 109th votes on the vital question of fetal nerve endings, Democrats should not waste any time rescusitating it in the 110th.
Instead, under its otherwise tattered and threadbare Home Rule Charter the existing DC Mayor and Council should boldly act. Receive a petition from their citizens to incorporate (as the Territory of New Columbia) all of DC except a quadrangle surrounding the Capitol, the Mall and the White House. That quadrangle would remain the Federal District. The existing District Government would transfer all its functions and personnel to the Territorial Government. The Territory of New Columbia would then petition Congress for admission as a State.
The current DC Government certainly has the power to receive citizen petitions and to act on them. As long as Congress does not explicitly forbid DC to reorganize as a Territory, it could entertain the subsequent Statehood petition with a clean conscience. Excluding a rump Federal District for both Constitutional and practical reasons (the House and Senate District Committees, not Territorial taxpayers, would have to pay for future police and fire protection within the rump area) makes the scheme not only workable but pleasantly sardonic. Meantime, contributions from a Territorial commuter tax toward permanent funding for Metro operations and Chesapeake Bay cleanup could shame Maryland and Virginia into following the Territory’s fine lead on the two largest, longest-term problems confronting the entire region.
The fight for Statehood would be harsh but would be clearly based on equal justice under the law. As an act of civic consciousness the Territorial Constitution could allow voting only for Territorial officers, leaving the Electoral College to draft Electors if it felt it needed any during the period prior to full Statehood. The fait accompli of Territoriality would change the Statehood discourse forever and avoid the shameful and shoddy minimalism of having just one Congresscritter. The DC Fair and Equal House Voting Rights Act is neither fair nor equal, merely convenient.
--The Slangwhanger-in-Chief has advocated DC Statehood since 1974.