12 Apr 2011

Reader Poll: Do you want DC statehood?

As you may or may not have heard, our councilmember, Mayor and several others were arrested yesterday for civil disobedience during a protest over a federal spending plan.  The issue: the Federal Government can basically override any decision DC makes about how to spend its own money.  We could argue over abortion and school vouchers, but at the end of the day, it could be anything other than what we decide.  This is far from the first time that representatives from other states have slipped into bill provisions that affect our daily lives. As Maria stated in a post this morning, “Decisions that should befall the District and its residents are being used as political leverage without input from our elected leaders.”

DC pays a lot of taxes but we don’t have the same rights as the states.  And in recent days many have been calling for DC statehood as the answer.  Do you want to see DC become a state?

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33 responses to “Reader Poll: Do you want DC statehood?”

  1. anon says:

    For those voting no who live in D.C., please explain. I am honestly curious.

  2. Rake says:

    I would vastly prefer the tax treatment afforded those who live in Puerto Rico, the USVI, Guam, etc to statehood. This is particularly true given the cast of clowns who make up DC’s political class (apologies to Tommy Wells), who would likely make an even bigger mockery of DC than they already have – I mean, Vince Gray as a governor? Fully Loaded as a, well, anything?!

  3. mch says:

    I voted no because it’s a moot point which is already outlined in the Constitution. I knew it when I moved here. If the other states want to change the Constitution, let them. I can be in two other states within 1o minutes from the Hill; if voting were such a big deal, I could easily live there.

  4. Rich says:

    I voted no because beyond the Constitutional debate of whether or not DC could become a state, I feel that our often dysfunctional and corrupt local government needs federal oversight. Not all Wards have leaders like Tommy Wells. The recent mayoral and council flaps only remind us that DC ain’t ready for prime time!

  5. anon2 says:

    Slavery was also outlined in the Constitution.

  6. Steve says:

    I think it’s fine that DC is not a state and has no representation. That being the case, DC should collect no taxes and DC residents should be exempt from federal taxes. If the government wants to rule every part of our lives without representation, then they can pay for it.

    And to the ignoramus who can easily go to another state in 10 minutes, please do. Some of us call this city home and aren’t merely transient.

  7. mch says:

    @anon2: at 5:39 pm

    Slavery was also outlined in the Constitution.

    And the states corrected it by passing the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

    All it takes is an amendment, but it is clear that the other states do not consider DC statehood a priority.

  8. Ken says:

    So, the definition of democracy and representative government is that it is a right allowed only to those whom someone else determines is capable of handling it? In other words, the thrust of the comments here is that the American experiment in self-government is a failure because there are some people (such as the residents of the District of Columbia) who are not capable of self-government and therefore need some outsiders to govern them instead.
    Sorry — but I reject that argument completely and totally.
    And if you were to base your argument on the quality of the leadership of elected officials, then the past week would have been amble evidence of the problem at the national level. Thus, I would ask everyone a simply question — do you apply the same standards to the national level (on not being ready for prime time) as you do to DC? If so, are you ready to hand the nation back to the Queen so someone can look after us poor folks who aren’t apparently ready enough to govern ourselves?

  9. Scot says:

    Excerpt from Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall have Power… To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings…”

    Doesn’t this mean that military personnel stationed at homeland bases (or other U.S. government employees living on any federal property) likewise cannot claim residence of any state and therefore cannot vote for elected officials in Congress? Are there any constitutional scholars or attorneys on this blog? Why don’t statehood advocates try to litigate this?

  10. Maria Helena Carey Maria Helena Carey says:

    Hi Scot,
    Actually, armed forces personnel can request absentee ballots when they are deployed overseas. They can also claim residence of the state of their choosing.

  11. Kei says:

    My understanding is that non-armed forces people who move to overseas can also request absentee ballots and maintain their resident status in the state where they previously resided, for that matter. It is only when you move to D.C. that you lose your voting representation.

  12. LJ says:

    There is no support in the Constitution for DC statehood. That doesn’t mean the states couldn’t ratify a Constitutional amendment (zero chance, in practical terms, though). I would be fine with no federal taxation instead.

  13. DB says:

    We’re never going to get full statehood. So, how about we just become part of MD?

  14. JF says:

    Military family here….

    As a military member, you can’t claim the state of your choosing. That’s not to say that folks aren’t scamming the system though.

    You can claim the state where you are able to establish and maintain residency. For most military members, this is the state that they lived in prior to joining the military. They had already established residency there (because they lived there) and then are able to maintain it because states allow military members to keep their driver’s license, car registration, and voting rights in that state. If you want to switch your residency to a different state, then you have to go through the same process as any other person to try to establish residency there (get an address there, get bills to that address, get a license there, etc).

  15. Scot says:

    I guess my idea is that residents of DC could claim a right to vote in federal elections in whatever state they wish while also voting in DC elections as a local jurisdiction – and they’d have a case according to my reading of the Constitution. The notion of DC voters shopping around for a state to vote in would jolt Congress into supporting sone type of voting rights for DC (or perhaps granting statehood if we’re really lucky). Again, I’m no lawyer or legal scholar, so thank you to others for comments and feedback.

  16. ABC says:


    I think you misunderstand the thrust of the comments. The point of the previous commenters was that you should consider the practical as well as the principle when deciding whether you want to trade Congress for elected DC officials. Or, you shouldn’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

    If you want to completely (as well as totally) stand on the principle of national representation—of course, in addition to that we receive from the President—that’s your prerogative, but you should also be aware of where the other side is coming from. I’ve yet to hear anyone make a convincing argument, much less a mildly credible one, that DC would be better off without Congressional oversight. Would each councilmember drive a custom Navigator? Would all of Marion Barry’s paramours draw a salary?

    Like others, I have no problem with the lack of statehood, and would much rather tax free status.

  17. Anon3 says:

    I’ll turn the 1st commenter’s question back on him/her: Explain for me the Constitutional basis you think DC can be a state. Is there ANY way that wouldn’t involve getting 75% of the states to agree to it? Does anyone seriously believe that 38 of 50 states will agree to DC Statehood?

    I know a lot of people think “No taxation without representation” is a law of some kind, but it’s not. It’s a principle. And, since it’s likely not going to get DC the “representation” part, what’s wrong with the “no taxation” part?

  18. K says:

    I’m not to wrapped up in the statehood part. I would prefer some sort of solution that resulted in representation of some kind. It would be good if our representative had some sort of vote s/he could barter with like other reps do. I don’t have a problem with retrocession either.

    Voting where I had residency before I lived here would be nice for me, but where would my son and other native Washingtonian’s in this solution vote? I made my choice to live here, so losing my rights is on me – but its kind of callous to put that on native Washingtonians as well, as if every preson in this city were part of the myth of a city of transients.

  19. K says:

    P.S. I’ll leave you “needle exchange” as a counter argument to why local government might be better than federal oversight, despite Lincoln Navigators and all that. Which is to say, there are problems with how both bodies do their business.

  20. Kalle says:

    The Constitutional point is a good one. There are numerous scholars who have argued that the Constitution does/doesn’t support Congress just up and declaring DC to be a state. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel said “no,” and Eric Holder rejected that research and went elsewhere. It all smacks of politics.

    Thus, the only surefire way to avoid years (and years) of litigation is a Constitutional amendment, which just isn’t grounded in reality.

    I think a single member of Congress would be acceptable, although I don’t know if that’s Constitutional either. Then again, how hard is it to picture DC residents getting a Congress member, and then protesting that they want 2 Senators too?

    Just nix the taxes and watch the complaints evaporate.

  21. T says:

    No. Maryland can take the city, but DC doesn’t deserve statehood..

    I mean imagine a Marion Barry, Vince Gray governor, and ENH as our rep…?

    Laughable. This city is a corrupt joke, and 70% is a lepor colony (the ungentrified parts) full of social pariahs and parasistes in general.

  22. Alex B. says:


    I know a lot of people think “No taxation without representation” is a law of some kind, but it’s not. It’s a principle. And, since it’s likely not going to get DC the “representation” part, what’s wrong with the “no taxation” part?

    You think representation is unlikely. Ok. What in the world would make you think the taxation angle is more likely?

  23. Alex B. says:

    And regarding the Constitution – please, someone point to me the part where it says that citizens should be disenfranchised in their nationally elected body simply based upon where they live.

  24. #8 of 41 says:

    @ABC – I’m working on an argument to encounter your paternalistic, short-sighted position (an all too common position, in my opinion). The crux of the argument is this:

    *Our lack of real representation in our national legislative body creates conditions that abet incompetency at the local level of government because:

    a) It incentivizes the continuation of a one-party monopoly on political power in the city;

    b) which in turn leaves us with a city government often reminescent of Tammany Hall;

    * Lacking any real stake in national political decisions, we will always be subject to the limitations of our (broken) two-party political system, e.g. the Republican party will never give a rat’s ass about really competing in the District.

    *Thus we will never be able to reproduce and sustain the Fiorella La Guardia moment needed to permanently change the underlying political structures in this city. Fenty tried. He failed.

    In conclusion, pursuit of true representation and the full expression of our “self-evident” and “inalieanable” rights becomes inextricably linked to our collective desire for a less nepotistic, less corrupt and more effective city government.

    Respond please.

  25. #8 of 41 says:

    @ABC – I meant “counter” not “encounter”.

  26. MJ says:

    I voted no because I was busy worrying about bike lanes, dog parks and sipping lattes to be bothered with questions about D.C.’s electoral future.

  27. Ken says:

    ABC — and all. The issue here is not just a lack of representation but the principle that DC requires Congressional oversight on how to spend local funds. I have no problem having Congress deciding how to spend federal tax dollars. I do have a problem with Congress telling a local government how to spend local funds.

    To quote ABC “I’ve yet to hear anyone make a convincing argument, much less a mildly credible one, that DC would be better off without Congressional oversight.” Frankly #8 of 41 described it right — have paternalistic can you get! In other words, “You poor dumb DC residents are better off with Congress making the decisions for you.”

    Let me repeat — either you believe in the America experiment in self government or you don’t. If you don’t believe that self-government is appropriate for DC, then how can you believe that self-government is appropriate for any place else – including the rest of the country.

  28. ABC says:


    With my short-sightedness, it’s hard to wade through your big words and lofty writing style, but I beg your permission to allow me the opportunity to respond to your unsupported conclusions that are masquerading as reasoned assertions.

    Simply put, I think it is naive of you to think that the lack of Congressional elections has any impact on the quality of our elected officials. You act as if, all of a sudden, 40% of the city will swing from D to R with a wave of your magic statehood wand (and that would only get us to 50/50). If anything, Congressional elections will hurt local DC government. Do you think Mary Cheh likes having to interact with dullards like Gray, Brown, and Barry? Rather than attracting a higher quality of public official, I’m going to speculate (which is what we are both doing) that congressional representation could just as likely lower the quality of representation—those who are the least bit competent will head for zee hillz as soon as possible.

    While I appreciate your idealistic bent, and would like an active two party system in DC as much as the next guy, it’s simply not going to happen.

  29. ABC says:


    You say paternalism as if it is a bad thing, but countless government programs and regulations deprive individuals of personal choice for the alleged good of the whole.

    Not to mention that you seem to be implying that DC residents live in a dictatorship, completely lacking any input in how they are governed. We have recently allowed gay marriage, medical marijuana, and internet gambling. None of which could garner a majority in Congress. So save me your crocodile tears about how democracy has passed us by. The fact remains that Congress has very little impact on how DC spends its money. Congress has given DC plenty of rope to hang itself over the years, and DC has been happy to oblige.

  30. #8 says:

    Well ABC, I really didn’t think you’d buy my argument anyway, but heck, it was worth a shot (and it allowed me to work through the idea a little–thanks and I promise to try and make it stronger).

    Which words confused you, “monopoly”, the miss-spelled “inalienable”, or maybe “rat’s ass”? I’ll dumb that down for you next time.

    By the way, you’re funny. Bitter, but funny. Kind of like the taste left in my mouth after swallowing a bug. Cheers.

  31. Ken says:

    ABC — what part of democracy or the right of the people to self-government don’t you understand. Apparently the words “with the consent of the governed” are meaningless to you. Simply because Congress has not weighed in on every issue doesn’t mean they should. The fact that you believe that it is morally right for Congress to selectively override local law (forget about the legality — let’s talk about whether it is right or not) is where we part company.
    And at least the “big government” paternalism you complain about was a result of representative government in action. You may not agree with that action but that is not a justification for substituting the rule by a non-representative body. Or apparently, paternalism is only a one-way street for you — it’s paternalism if you don’t agree but its not paternalism if people you agree with impose their will.

  32. Scot says:

    States can make bad choices (i.e. Sarah Palin, David Duke, non-Cuomos in New York, etc.), so the whackos currently holding elective office in DC are the reason to support statehood, not oppose it. As a real state with a real governor and real legislature, the normal checks and balances of democracy would provide for better government – despite the occasional problem politician. DC’s draft constitution calls for a 40-member “House of Delegates.” It should be a 51-seat legislature (odd numbered, a reasonable size for a small state, and the same number as DC’s admission to the Union). Right now, citizens have no real options for competent government. The dysfunctional DC Council is too small and the pathetic ANC is too big. (Does anyone really give “great weight” to the decisions made by ANC commissioners)? There are many “citizens” in DC who maintain residence in other states (students, retired military, association employees on assignment, new residents) because they want representation in Congress as well as a state government. They have no interest in participating in the patronage of local ward politics. These voters would get active in DC as a state, and this would be a first step toward effective government for the District. Statehood would fix the problems – the problems are not an excuse for denying statehood. Ultimately it is about the principles of democracy and true American patriotism. “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” For the 35% not supporting statehood in this poll, SHAME ON YOU!

  33. Anon3 says:

    @AlexB, who wrote:
    You think representation is unlikely. Ok. What in the world would make you think the taxation angle is more likely?

    I’m not sure . . . maybe we could ask the the people in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and
    the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands if they think it’s at least possible. 😛

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