Washington, D.C., should be a state.
It’s in the United States, as are the over 700,000 people living there who currently have no — read: zero — voting representation in Congress. This should be reason enough for anyone even a little bit concerned with democracy to support granting the district statehood. A majority of Americans do. So does President Biden, as Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed last week. So do Democrats in the House of Representatives, who on Monday held a hearing to debate a bill on the issue.
As you may have guessed, congressional Republicans are not on board, as granting statehood to the heavily Democratic District of Columbia would all but ensure Democrats would have more representation in Congress — particularly in the Senate, where they’d be likely to pick up two additional seats. Republicans can’t say that part out loud, though. Nor are they willing to be up front about how blocking D.C. statehood means denying representation to hundreds of thousands of D.C. residents of color. So they have to invent other reasons it’s a bad idea to give an equal voice to Americans living in the nation’s capital.
The effort to rationalize their opposition may have reached its nadir on Monday, when Zack Smith of the Heritage Foundation tried to claim during the aforementioned hearing held by the House Oversight and Reform Committee that D.C. residents already have “undue influence over the federal government.” How? Well, they can put signs in their yards that lawmakers might see when they’re driving around town.
Have a listen:
The Heritage Foundation’s Zack Smith, arguing against DC statehood, says DC residents “already impact the national debate” because members of Congress see their yard signs while driving to work. pic.twitter.com/g7fV3TopCX
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) March 22, 2021
“There’s no question that D.C. resident already impact the national debate,” Smith droned. “For the members here today, how many of you saw D.C. statehood yard signs or bumper stickers or banners on your way to this hearing today? I certainly did. Where else in the nation could such simple actions reach so many members of Congress.”
As incredible as Smith’s argument is, he may have been overestimating how much his Republican allies in Congress care about maintaining the illusion they believe in the democratic process. Plenty of them have already flat-out said they don’t want D.C. to be a state because they don’t want the left-leaning Americans living there to have representation. “Our base is concerned,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) recently told The Washington Post. “This is their first step of their political power grab.”
Comer was at it again on Monday, citing D.C. being “90 percent Democratic” as a reason to deny it statehood. “D.C. statehood is a key part of the radical leftist agenda to reshape America, along with the Green New Deal, defunding the police, and packing the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said, adding that the District is less populous than Columbus, Ohio. (He did not mention that it is more populous than Wyoming and Vermont.)
Rep. James Comer (R-KY): “D.C. statehood is a key part of the radical leftist agenda to reshape America, along with the Green New Deal, defunding the police, and packing the U.S. Supreme Court.” pic.twitter.com/y2qJwnm6wG
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2021
Zack Smith, you don’t have to think so hard. Take a cue from Republicans in Congress and just admit you’re not really a huge fan of democracy.