By David Swanson
For the length of next year, the nearly 600,000 residents of Washington, D.C., will continue to pay federal income taxes and to send their kids to die in Iraq (thus far in greater proportion than any other area of the country), but will be deprived of any representation in either house of Congress.
This qualifies as breaking news to the 82 percent of Americans who are unaware that this situation exists and is not new, and therefore is not generally considered news. Maybe the big voting rights march in Atlanta this Saturday will manage to point a little attention to the lack of representation in D.C. Or maybe the endless drivel about democracy in the Middle East that keeps seeping out of the White House and the Pentagon will cause the national press corps to notice the lack of democracy in occupied D.C. Or maybe, at least, these passing references to “news” topics will help get this column published, despite the reference to emanations from the White House as “drivel”.
In fact, there is something new here, namely a proposal I want to make that could possibly help solve this problem. And I mean the problem of no representation, plus the problem of Congressional control over DC government. That’s right, the one part of the country that has no vote in Congress is controlled by Congress and used as a testing ground for its right-wing theories when no states with voting representation will stand for it and no Native American reservation will suit the purpose. Want to pour public dollars into private schools, but your constituents would raise hell? No problem, impose your scheme on DC and let kids whose parents don’t elect anyone suffer! Want to legalize all kinds of guns and see if this really helps everyone protect themselves through preemptive strikes? Would your constituents be inclined to lock you up? Don’t sweat it; try it out on D.C.
Clearly one part of the solution is letting people know that the problem exists. When asked the following question, which informs them of the problem, 82 percent of Americans say that, yes, Washington, D.C., should have voting rights in the House and Senate:
“Nearly six hundred thousand U.S. citizens live in Washington, DC. They pay full federal taxes and fight in every war. But, unlike citizens who live in the 50 states, they do not have voting representation in Congress