Posted by: ateedub | August 27, 2008

DC Demands the Vote

Thanks DCist, for bringing this video to our attention:

(courtesy Flickr user christaki)

(courtesy Flickr user christaki)

Only in DC would we commission a song to protest our lack of a vote in the legislature, and then play it at the Democratic National Convention. I’m not sure this helps increase awareness about the issue – at least not outside of DC where awareness is already pretty high. My neighborhood is littered with these signs (of course I do live in the more activist Capitol Hill, not in NW).

FACT: DC residents do not have a vote in the legislature.

This may seem like a silly issue, but it’s a matter of principle. We in DC are less equal than the rest of Americans simply because we live in the nation’s capital. The absurdity lies in the fact that Wyoming has 40,000 fewer residents than the District, but has 2 Senators and a Representative in the House (all able to vote) representing them in Congress. To add insult to injury, the city’s budget must be approved by the House of Representatives each year – where we the citizen’s of the District do not have a vote!

FACT: Several bills have gone before Congress to give DC a voting Representative in the House.

I understand the argument that we don’t want to add a single seat in the House that would almost inevitably always vote Democratic. But the proposals include a second seat going to Utah, which would almost inevitably always vote Republican and whose population growth likely warrants another seat. And yet, this hasn’t been passed.

So DC’s non-voting Delegate in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton, makes a speech about this at the convention (at 3 pm when no-one is in the convention center) and the DC delegation holds a protest outside the Denver mint.

But the voting rights song brings up important messages:

  • Education: We’re ranked 51st in the country. Granted, it’s not a one-to-one comparison, but even among cities, we’re low.
  • Poverty: Income inequality in the District is the highest in the nation.

And there is no state funding to support schools or infrastructure – only the city. And the District’s Mayor and City Council must have their budget passed by Congress each year. I know I was pretty astounded when Mary Landrieu decided to step into local DC policy last year as chair of the appropriations committee. What does she know about DC?

In short, I love the song even though it will be as ineffective as every other attempt, I also noticed Hillary Clinton’s omission last night, and I demand the vote.

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Responses

  1. OK, it’s true that I live in Maryland, but I am in D.C. often enough and I had not seen one of those signs until this morning. In any case, I completely agree that it is ridiculous that we don’t have a voting representative!! And I hate when people forget to refer to D.C. as one of the states.


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