Jan 24, 07:15 PM: 582,000 Americans who have no voice in Congress
In 2002, I officially gave up my right to have representation in the United States Congress. That was the year that I registered to vote in the District of Columbia. I have since been an official resident of the District, and have paid both federal and “state” income taxes ever since. I voted in 2004 for President, but it should be noted that residents of the District of Columbia have only had that privilege since 1964. (Yes, you read that right, nineteen sixty-four).
Now I have heard a lot of reasons why I should not be allowed to vote for Congress. These range from the absurd (Washington, D.C. gets so much federal aid, you should be grateful and just be quiet) to somewhat more logical (2 Senators for one city would be goofy). However, I don’t put any stock into these excuses. That’s because these reasons fail to address the main problem, that American citizens who pay taxes have no voice in the Congress that ultimately creates those taxes, and also sends our members of the military to fight.
It’s been said that there’s no national outcry about this because no one outside of D.C. knows about it. There have been many publicity stunts trying to attract attention to the voting rights issue, from moving the District’s presidential primary, to stamping “Taxation Without Representation” on our license plates. So far, though, nothing has seemed to work. Nothing has galvanized the nation to take action. The situation was even officially declared a human rights violation by the Organization of American States. Yet, again, no one seems to care.
I’ll assume this blog post will not be the turning point either.
I’ve traveled across much of the United States, and most people are surprised that Washington, D.C. has it’s own driver’s licenses. I’m not sure why most people are surprised, I guess they assume that Washington, D.C. is actually part of Maryland or Virginia. I received quite a few strange looks driving around Washington state with my car from D.C. When I explain to people that yes, people live in Washington and that we can’t vote, most people are shocked.
Are you shocked? You may have even visited Washington, and seen the White House or the Capitol, and seen the monuments. I’ll bet you didn’t even think about the people actually living in the city. It’s okay, when I first visited D.C. I didn’t give much thought to it either.
Since our government has gotten in the habit of spreading democracy across the world, it’s a shame we can’t take care of the problem of the people who live in the “capital of the free world.”
There has been some talk about giving our “non-voting Delegate” a vote, provided we give Utah a second at-large representative. This is clearly ridiculous, as it turns this into a political issue rather than a voting rights issue. That’s like saying, let’s give the U.S. two votes on the U.N. Security Council to make up for China’s vote. Actually, that’s a bad analogy, but you get the point.
I’m just hoping that if you read this, you’ll be just a little shocked that there are so many people who don’t have the same rights the rest of America does, and maybe you’ll write your Congressman. Or your Senators.
I would, but, well, you know.
Nov 9, 10:44 AM: Note to the new Democratic Congress
Pass a voting rights bill for the District of Columbia, and forget about giving Utah an extra seat.
Bush won’t veto it. Nancy Pelosi: Please incorporate that into the “first 100 hours.”
The 580,000 residents of the District of Columbia
Nov 7, 01:14 AM: Please vote, not all of us can
Remember to go vote. Also remember that there are over 500,000 people in the District of Columbia who will not be electing members of Congress tomorrow.
Take advantage of your chance to vote. Although it was said in 2000, 2004 and many times before that, this is an important election. In fact, very election is an important one.
Remember that it is your Congress, and the people you select to send to Washington are your advocates in the federal government. If your Congressman or Senator is running for re-election, consider whether or not they have earned that priviledge. Have they worked their hardest to serve both you, your district/state, and the nation as a whole. This is your chance to give them a job review.
To me, this Congress has failed on a number of issues. They have failed to create a meaningful national security policy, they have failed to keep the federal budget in check, they have failed to promote education, they have failed to ensure the United States remain a leader on the world stage, and they have failed to put the interests of the country ahead of their own.
You, as voters, have the chance to fire those who have failed to serve their country. You as voters have the chance to vote for a different direction. Consider what your representatives have done and said (and left undone and unsaid) in your name. The last two years are on them, but the next two will be on you if you don’t carefully consider whether they deserve another chance.
By virtue of the U.S. Constitution, I can’t vote tomorrow. I live in Washington, D.C. and do not have a voting member of Congress, and have no senators. Those who call the District of Columbia home pay taxes, serve in the military and love their country just as much as those who live in Wyoming, Rhode Island, or Texas. Consider that when choosing whether or not to support those in Congress who have consistantly avoided the topic of voting rights for those who live in what, for a long time, had been considered the capital of the free world.
Be informed. Be skeptical. It’s your turn to have a voice, and to do more than just shake your head at the television.
Please vote, because there are some who live in this country who do not have the chance to do so.