Last month, I took a trip out to Washington, D.C. It was fun though brief, but at least I got to see some of the area. I must admit some of the stuff threw me for a loop. Instead of high school football practice, I saw lacrosse practice. Instead of enforced zoning, I saw a mix of commercial and residential. The iced tea was unsweetened.
Anyway, I did notice something that struck me as a bit odd.
You read that right: taxation without representation. Now, some of us who are A) aware of how History works, and 2) refuse to revise it understand why Washington, D.C. operates differently than the rest of the country. Firstly, DC is a federal district under the control of Congress, not a state. Secondly, representation is limited to a voice delegate in the House, but none in the Senate (for obvious reasons). Thirdly, though part of the land was ceded back to Virginia in 1847, the rest of it has not been ceded to Maryland. DC has a duly elected mayor and council, however. There have been many attempts to rectify the representation issue, but all have stagnated or met with little success. One of the more successful was the compromise on the 23rd Amendment that allowed for three electoral votes in presidential elections. After all the failed proposals and bills and petitions, it boils down to the fact that it is NOT a state and can’t be treated as such.
It has been argued that the best way to remedy the situation is to cede back to Maryland through retrocession. That way, residents would enjoy representation and all that that implies. Of course, the rumor goes that Maryland does NOT want the land ceded back, because with it come the headaches of representation. Most “experts” agree the only solution is through a Constitutional amendment, since the 23rd Amendment exists to give some representation and would have to be superseded. Another option is to make DC a state in itself, but that would violate the District Clause. In short, part of DC would have to remain a Federal District, and no one knows where to draw that line.
Frankly, I think the whole situation is not just bizarre, but also myopic. For one thing, though the residents of DC pay federal taxes, those taxes go to the city itself, to include maintenance of the national parks (which include the monuments and memorials), roads, public transit, etc., since it is a federal district and not a state that can generate its own revenue. For another, they do choose their city representation and can decide on city issues. And the biggest issue? Voting is not a right. It is a privilege. If you wish to exercise the privilege, move out of DC. No one is forcing you to live there. With all the public transportation around the area, commuting is not an issue. Well, unless Metro is on fire or there’s a shooting. But that is rare…ish. Vice President Biden had no issues taking the Metro into DC when he was a Senator. If you choose to live in DC, you must be willing to compromise and deal with the perks and the drawbacks of a federal district.
This isn’t Burger King™, and you can’t have it your way without a Constitutional amendment.