12 Apr 2011

Civil Disobedience on the Hill

The act of sitting down is so commonplace, it is relatively meaningless. But here is some footage (courtesy of TBD.com) that, if you are a District resident and have felt frustrated by the federal intrusion in our District life, will make you rethink the meaning of sitting down while standing up for us all:

Giving the statehood to DC is not without its perils and problems, but after the events of Friday it is a worthy goal: DC residents pay taxes but get no actual representation in Congress. We are at the mercy of the comings and goings of the federal government, down to such basic needs as trash removal. Decisions that should befall the District and its residents are being used as political leverage without input from our elected leaders. So it’s heartening and refreshing and downright thrilling to see that our mayor and members of his staff (and our very own councilmember, Tommy Wells!) made a bold move to show that DC needs full representation.

We are proud of you all. Thank you for taking your job as our representatives and our elected voices seriously!


The opinions stated in this post are those of the author alone and do not reflect the opinions of The Hill is Home as a whole.

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31 responses to “Civil Disobedience on the Hill”

  1. Stan Olshefski says:

    And to think, they’re protesting to keep a couple hundred poor kids out of good schools and to force other people to foot the bill for killing defenseless babies.

  2. IMGoph says:

    well, the opinions should reflect the opinions of the whole blog. whoever’s not on board should get with the program! 🙂

  3. Matt says:

    @Maria – Hear hear!

    @Stan – The will of the majority of a populace is being overruled by people not elected by that populace. They are protesting to gain the right of American citizens to determine their own course.

  4. MC says:

    Yes, let’s force low-income 12-year-olds to have babies, and then not provide any support for either child.

  5. Jill says:

    And by your logic, Stan, those “defenseless babies” will also be uneducated defensless babies who, because of their lack of education (and apparent lack of defense mechanism) will breed more defenseless uneducated babies and the cycle will go on. Way to go, Stan.

  6. Ken says:

    Just to re-iterate the obvious — this is not about vouchers or abortion. This is about whether we live in a democracy or not. Almost 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln said it best when he described America as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. But when the people are not allowed to have a say in their government, there is no democracy. Under a democracy, Stan is allowed to have and voice his option. But it is not a democracy people who share Stan’s opinion are allow to dictate to everyone else.

  7. Ken says:

    So — which side are you on? Democracy — even when I don’t necessarily like the outcome? Or being dictated to by others because I happen to agree with them on this particular issue?

  8. Matt says:

    Yes, let’s force people to pay taxes and then not provide the ability for their government to spend that money on local services.

    Such as garbage collection. And parking enforcement.

    Good rhetorical technique though. 🙂

  9. Rhonda says:

    You silly people. The solution is simple. Tell the poor girls and women of DC to stop having sex. Duh. That’ll solve the problem. No defenseless babies and no uneducated children. Done and Done.

  10. MJ says:

    While I commend Tommy and others for standing up for D.C., I’m not sure this sort of dramatic gesture does anything but reinforce the ambivalent attitude most lawmakers (of both parties) have towards the District. The only way D.C. will ever achieve full representation is by demonstrating why it is in the best interests of the country to do so. That’s not fair, but that’s the reality. Nobody with the power to help D.C. has any incentive to do so unless we show them why it matters.

    It’s a really crummy situation.

  11. Jon Penndorf says:

    Maybe we should all declare residency in Boehner’s Ohio District. Maybe then he would listen to us.

  12. Kyra says:

    Maybe then our kids will get a slot in a pre-school program, Jon. Only… who would ever willingly agree to live in Ohio?!

    Tommy Wells in 2012!

  13. Stan Olshefski says:

    All —

    We don’t live in a democracy, we live in a representative republic.

    Our founding fathers outlined the rationale for creating a federal district under complete control of the new federal government in Federalist Paper No. 43. I suggest you read it.

    Matt —

    The District receives $5.50 in federal tax revenue for every $1 paid by D.C. residents — far exceeding what every other state and locality in the U.S. receives.

    Ken —

    What makes you think it’s a good idea to compel every citizen to fund morally objectionable state spending?

    Matt —

    Where did our sense of community, personal responsibility and morality go that we teach young kids to ‘do whatever you want, the state will take care of it with an abortion’?

    Jill —

    I’m not sure what the heck you are trying to argue, but it sounds like you are taking up Ezra Klein’s argument that “taxpayers end up bearing a lot of the expense for unintended pregnancies among people without the means to care for their children” and that makes abortion morally acceptable. If that’s that case, I feel sorry for you.

  14. Jill says:


    Um, yes “’taxpayers end up bearing a lot of the expense for unintended pregnancies among people without the means to care for their children’ and that makes abortion morally acceptable.” It is a woman’s right (something you would know nothing about) to decide what happens to her body. P.S. Thank you for expending your energy feeling sorry for me. I appreciate that an anti-choice anti-American would think about me.

  15. Jon Penndorf says:

    Stan-you cite a paper written some 200 years ago. They wrote the Constitution in ye olde times too, and that has been revised.

    I am no historian (THIH’s Robert covers that for us) but when the Federalist Paper No. 43 was written, do you know if there was a population of over 600,000 living within the federal district? And what do other modern democracies do, where have they placed their capitals? Are they all in “districts” or are they located in states/provinces?

  16. Alexander says:

    Stan, “morally objectionable state spending?” Says who? Your opinion is one of many opinions. It does not mean that you are right or morally superior to anyone else. Get over yourself.

  17. Stan– You are a very competent debater. My hat is off to you (unironically) on that point. But, don’t you think it’s at least vaguely irritating that, as DC residents, we are actually not represented in this representative republic? Also, while our founding fathers had many excellent notions, there have also been twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution: this reflects that a growing country needs to adjust to the evolving needs of its people.

    Little-known fact: as DC residents, we could not vote in Presidential elections until the twenty-third amendment was passed, in 1961.

  18. Rake says:

    This entire protest was comical. Vince and the “One City Crew” have ZERO respect among congress. Their recent shenanigans haven’t helped any either – do you think than Vince and EHN wonder why they weren’t brought in the loop on how any of the negotiations would effect DC? Sadly, I doubt it.

    Ultimately this protest serves little other than a brief respite from the non-stop debacle that is Vince and Kwame’s regime thus far. Like Sharon Pratt Kelly, getting arrested may well prove the high point for Vince’s time as mayor.

    I understand the rationale, but when the “front line of protestors looks like this – Vince (investigation ongoing), Kwame (investigation ongoing), Yvette Alexander (accused of mis-spending – OIG review ongoing), Michael Brown (tax issues, foreclosure issues), Sekou Biddle (One City Puppet – Marshall Brown apologist), and Tommy Wells (a rose among thorns), there’s only so much traction that can be achieved.

    Were we to have competent representation in DC locally (from EHN to Vince and down), protests would stand a better chance of accomplishing their stated goal.

  19. Tim says:

    Rake summed up the political arguments for why our elected officials incompetence is selling us out. All Vince Gray did was make himself even more marginalized in the eyes of Congress. He can’t even do a protest right.

    Until DC can get its governance act together, no one on Capitol Hill will ever, ever care about what it.

  20. Tim says:


  21. Tim Krepp says:

    We can and should demand better local governance, but I don’t buy the argument that this made us more marginalized in front of Congress. I’m not sure what more marginalized can even look like.

    Yesterday’s action are a tiny step forward. A little bit of national publicity and a rallying cry to the local base. The correct response is not to belittle this action, but to ponder what we can do to build on it.

    If, like Stan, you don’t believe I deserve the same rights as my fellow Americans, I respect your views but just don’t see eye to eye with you. But if you do believe we should have our basic civic rights, and just retreat into cheap cynicism that “nothing is ever going to change”, well, then, that’s just contemptuous.

    If we don’t build on this step, we might as well embrace our colonial status.

  22. Ken says:

    Stan — the government forces people to support what some believe is “morally objectionable state spending” all the time. For example, some people believe war is “morally objectionable” but tax dollars go that activity all the time. Personally I don’t have any problem funding defense — but there are those who have that belief. (I can find a lot of other things that the government funds that I find objectionable but you might support.) So your argument is that its is not ok to fund activities you believe are morally objectionable but you just fine with funding activities that others believe are morally objectionable. Sorry, but you can’t have it both ways.

    The point is that the people should be able to determine how their taxes are spend — not dictated to by others.

    And your point about a representative republic versus a democracy is right on. How can we claim to be a representative republic when DC citizens are denied representation?

    And by the way, I can have read both the Constitution and the federalist papers. But I think any Constitutional scholar would point out that the Federalist Papers were only one of many arguments being made at the time of ratification about what the founding fathers did or did not mean. I would recommend the book “Ratification” by Pauline Maier if you want to better understand both the nuances and the context of the context of the Federalist Papers and other arguments pro and con.

    I would also challenge your implicit belief that the founding fathers were right on all counts. There have been many changes to the Constitution — including immediately after its ratification in the form of the first ten amendment (of 12 actually proposed). So — if the founding fathers got it right at the constitutional convention — why did another set of not-quite-founding fathers (all those folks who were not at the constitutional convention) demand and get a series of changes?

  23. Stan Olshefski says:

    @Tim —

    I don’t believe you don’t “deserve the same rights as my fellow Americans.” No one is forced to live in the federal jurisdiction known the District of Columbia. You knowingly choose to live, or continue to live in a jurisdiction, that does not have representation in Congress and is the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress. Every American has an equal opportunity to make that decision for themselves.

    @Alexander —

    There is little debate over whether abortion is morally objectionable and that the modern liberal/progressive movement belittles this fact. The simple solution is to leave the government out of it.

    @Maria —

    Fair points. The only constitutional option to representation in Congress and removing the District from it’s exclusive jurisdiction of Congress is to go the route of an amendment to the Constitution. It’s DOA no matter which Article V route you go, but there is the only legitimate way to change situation — anything else is just partisan politics.

    @Jon —

    Just because something was written 200 years ago (in “ye olde times”) doesn’t mean that it has lost it’s importance or meaning. By that same argument, one could argue that the First Amendment needs to be revised as well….

    The population of the district is irrelevant to this discussion altogether… the same goes for what other countries do (we live in a constitutional representative republic within which we only follow our own laws).

    @Jill —

    Did you really call me “anti-American”? Wow!

    I’m not even arguing against “woman’s right (something you would know nothing about) to decide what happens to her body,” I’m simply stating that the state should not compel others to pay for this morally objectionable activity.

    If you want to have a frank discussion about ‘something you would know nothing about’ you can have a frank discussion with my wife will take you to task.

    I refer you to my response to Matt: “Where did our sense of community, personal responsibility and morality go that we teach young kids to ‘do whatever you want, the state will take care of it with an abortion’?”

    Please find what it is that is missing in your life if you really believe “‘taxpayers end up bearing a lot of the expense for unintended pregnancies among people without the means to care for their children’ and that makes abortion morally acceptable.”

  24. Ken says:

    Wow is right. Did you just say that an American citizen entitled to every right of every other citizen should be denied one of those rights because of the piece American soil that he or she happens to live on?

    In that case, would you also argue that because an American citizen chooses to live on one particular piece of American soil they can (or should) be denied any other rights — for example the right to free speech or freedom of religion? Then under your argument, the Congress would be perfectly within its powers to shut down every church in the District of Columbia — or to arrest and indefinitely detain without trial every person who was standing on the sidewalk during that protest (not blocking the street). I guess the idea of equal justice under law and the words, “we hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with by their creator with certain unalienable rights” don’t hold on all parts of America.

  25. Denny says:

    “@Jon —

    Just because something was written 200 years ago (in “ye olde times”) doesn’t mean that it has lost it’s importance or meaning.”

    Stan had a typo. His points cannot stand.

  26. Jon Penndorf says:

    Lost it’s importance? No. Completely accurate for contemprary society? Not so much.

    And my questions are no less relevant than your ramblings, thank you.

  27. Stan Olshefski says:

    @Jon —

    Please give me an example of where the Constitution, as amended, has lost it’s relevance.

  28. Stan Olshefski says:

    @Denny —

    Bravo! I misused it’s instead of its. Congrats good chum.

  29. Stan Olshefski says:

    @Ken —

    We already covered why the first part of your statement is wrong.

    Now on the the fallacious reasoning that follows. As you may know, the Constitution or any other supreme law or social contract does not give rights to any man — they are derived from God (nature to our atheist friends). Neither Congress, the D.C. Council nor any other government body can restrict our sovereign rights (some of which were codified in the Bill of Rights).

    Men can freely enter into a social contract that encumbers their sovereign rights, but only if they do so of their own free will and will full knowledge of what they are agreeing to. That’s what Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 does.

  30. Jon Penndorf says:

    Stan that’s my point…the Constitution HAS been amended where change was deemed necessary. The Federalist Papers, to my knowledge, have never been republished with amendments and revisions. You’re citing a paper that was written for its time, not necessarily now.

    Stan, do you live in Washington, DC? And are you satisfied for how our city is run now?

  31. Ken says:

    Stan — asserting the you “covered” why my argument is wrong and actually doing so are two different things. Nice rhetorical trick – but not correct. As far as you argument about sovereign rights – you make my point perfectly. Do the citizens of the Untied States of America who reside in the geographical area known as the District of Columbia have the sovereign rights to determine how their tax dollars — specifically their local tax dollars — are spent. The answer is clearly no.

    And going back to your original comments, you are in favor of this loss of sovereign rights because you disagree with how those local tax dollars would have been spend. In other words, you assert that your policy beliefs trump the sovereign rights of DC residents.

    By the way, you should go back and re-read your Federalist Papers — specifically #43 which you cited earlier. When discussion the District, it states, “as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them; as a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them;”. In other word, the Founding Fathers basically said it was obvious that that the residents of the District were have voting rights and to able to control over local affairs.

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