On the no side: Washington, D.C., “would be the only state, the only state, without an airport, without a car dealership, without a capital city, without a landfill,” according to Rep. Jody Hice. The District does in fact have multiple car dealerships, and is closely surrounded by three major airports, one of which can be reached by subway.
”They have no source of income,” Rep. Ralph Norman said. “In South Carolina, we have farming. In South Carolina, we have mining. The new state of Washington will have none of that.”
(Am I the only one hearing this in Hamilton Cabinet battle format? Seriously, the man all but said “We plant seeds in the South.”)
Washington, D.C., has an NBA team, an NHL team, an MLB team. (The Washington football team does play outside the District.) Just 21 states and Washington, D.C., have an NBA team. Just 17 states and Washington, D.C., have an MLB team. The same goes for the NHL. South Carolina may have mining and farming, but it has none of those. Different areas have different resources and different economies. The District has a vibrant economy and institutions and 700,000 people live there. That’s what matters.
On the no side, if we’re being honest: Washington, D.C., votes for Democrats, and Republicans don’t like that. Also, its residents are plurality Black, and Republicans don’t like that, either. (The two are admittedly related at this point in time, and Republicans would rather keep Black people from voting than try to win their votes.)
“You are constantly trying to create a political and ideological test for admission to the union,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a longtime advocate of statehood for D.C., said at the hearing. “The question is, are these taxpaying, draftable American citizens . . . deserving of equal rights? Of course they are.” But as Republicans are showing in state after state, they don’t think anyone is deserving of equal rights who is likely to use those rights to vote for a Democrat.
“How can you ask D.C. veterans to keep carrying the burden of disenfranchisement when we have shouldered the burden of defending our country?” a veteran who lives in the District asked.
How? Well, rank, ruthless partisanship is always a good answer where Republicans are concerned. But this exchange gets to the heart of the other key issue at stake:
Statehood passed the House last year and is expected to pass again this year. The Senate will be a problem on this as on all things. The filibuster needs to go, or at least to be seriously reformed. Statehood for Washington, D.C., is yet another key issue for U.S. democracy itself.