As students return to campus and classes begin, it is pertinent to reflect on the political twilight zone that GW is a part of. The District is the only territory in the continental United States void of political representation – a disgrace to the citizens of D.C. as well as the Constitution.
The only reason that more than 500,000 residents suffer from taxation without representation and continue to be disenfranchised from their government is conservative lawmakers’ fear of the minority-heavy Washington population – who would most definitely add Democratic representatives to Congress if given equal voting rights.
Currently, D.C. is only represented by one non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives – no representation in the Senate. Six-term Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton continues to fight the good fight to get D.C. voting rights on the map – even making D.C. Democratic primaries first in the nation for the 2004 elections to force candidates to discuss the issue. Her efforts, however, have thus far been fruitless as many in Congress and the country see her proposition as too radical, never earning bipartisan support.
While we agree that D.C. deserves all the voting rights that states receive, there might be room for compromise.
Rep. Thomas M. Davis, a Virginian Republican who chairs the Committee on Government Reform in the House, is working on a bill to give the District a House seat – in exchange for restoring a Republican seat Utah lost in recent redistricting. This proposal is a commendable attempt to get the District at least some voting representation in Congress and would not give the Democrats any advantage – the real Republican argument against D.C. representation.
Del. Norton is against this proposal, favoring her own proposal (currently languishing in sub-committee), which would give D.C. the same voting rights as states – two Senators and one Representative.
While this is a testament to Norton’s dedication to D.C. voting rights, she should concede that her bill has little chance of passing and throw her support behind Davis’ bill that has growing bipartisan support and could pass before the end of the year.
Norton should realize that a voting member in the House would be a big step in the right direction and a full Representative could do a lot more to push for further voting rights than can a Delegate.