POWER TO THE PEOPLE
NOT IF YOU LIVE IN THE CAPITAL OF THE FREE WORLD
This morning, once again for the umpteenth time, those of us who call Washington, D.C. home (and over 600,000 Americans do) got dissed again. No, I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh calling D.C. the sewage pit of America or the country’s hotbed of liberal breeding grounds. I’m referring to Parade Magazine, that much diminished Sunday newspaper supplement that, except for the Personality section goes directly into the blue recycling bin. (Or is it the green one?)
Today’s Parade includes an article about how Americans are celebrating Earth Day entitled “Earth Day Across America.” It includes a graphic of each state plus a short paragraph on how that state had contributed to the environment. It notes, for example, that Fort Collins, Colorado, has the most ambitious eco-plan (whatever that is) of any city in the nation while Minnesota’s Blue Earth County Justice Center is heated by an underground geothermal system. Each of the 50 states is afforded a brief opportunity to tout its contributions to making the country more environmentally friendly. It doesn’t include a description for the District of Columbia or Washington, D.C. as it’s known or the Capital of the Free World as it’s sometimes called. Dissed one more time.
This shit happens all the time – yes, Virginia, there are only 50 states and D.C. is not one of them - and basically tosses 64 square miles of America populated by 659,000 (up by more than 100,000 over the past fifteen years) U.S. Citizens into the garbage heap of irrelevance. What? We don’t matter? Ironically, as I was driving up Constitution Avenue past the Mall on my way back from a shopping trip out in Virginia on Friday (we patronize a Korean grocery store that has strange fruits and vegetables you won’t find at your Whole Foods or Harris Teeter) I saw a huge outdoor stage, large white tents that I assume are for environmental exhibits and lots of Porta Johnnies in anticipation of Earth Day celebrations here in the nation’s Capital.
And this crap happens all the time across so many areas: “List of Richest People by State” “Sexiest Bimbos in Your State” “Largest Companies by State” “How Many Stray Dogs Are There in Your State?” – list after list after list neglects to include the District of Columbia as if we simply don’t exist.
How did this happen? Why aren’t we a state? Why don’t those of us who live in the Capital of the Free World have two Senators and however many House Representatives 659,000 deserves – which population, just as an aside, is larger than the populations of both Vermont and Wyoming – like the 50 states?
Short History Lesson:
1790: Congress establishes the District of Columbia, seat of the Government of the United States to be ruled directly by the Congress of the United States
1790 – 1967 (177 years) District of Columbia Governed by three member Federal Commission appointed by Congress
1967 – 1972 Commissioner rule replaced by single Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, and nine member City Council all appointed by the President of the United States
1973 – Passage of the Home Rule act by Congress provided for locally elected Mayor and thirteen Member City Council
1790 – 2015 and beyond, presumably: Congress retains ability to approve or disapprove all legislative and fiscal acts of the Mayor and City Council. (Congress recently overturned locally enacted gun control law and legalization of marijuana legislation.)
So there you have it – 659,000 U.S. Citizens who have no representation in either the Senate or in the House (in fairness we do have an elected “Non-Voting Delegate” in the House for what that’s worth!) and you wonder why this shit pisses us off? After all we do pay Federal Income Taxes every year and if we don’t the IRS will come down on us just like every other American in those 50 states we call the United States of America.
Now to my mind, wouldn’t this be a prime issue for the “No Taxation Without Representation,” “Don’t Tread On Me,” “Power To The People” crowd? Why of course it should. After all these folks are all about governance “By The People” and “For The People” and here we sit on the banks of the Potomac River and we are subjected to the whims of unelected Federal whazoos at every turn. But alas, in my feeble attempts to bring this anomaly to the attention of the Tea Party folks I’ve been met with abject silence on the issue. Well, there is the occasional “then why don’t you move” response but that seems like avoiding the issue to me. Sure, I like Virginia and Maryland but I like living in DC and I ain’t moving despite the struggle to find parking spaces downtown where are favorite movie theater (Landmark’s E Street Cinema) is.
The District of Columbia is also home to the Federal Government and in all the lists that the Feds produce – the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Internal Revenue Service, the Census Bureau, the National Weather Service – they all include us, us DC residents, in their lists. And we love them for it. We also love them because they are a huge employer* here in Washington at 298,000 hard working folks as well as home to the Homeland Security Agency and God only knows how many other police and security agencies keeping us safe, the occasional incursion by a gyrocopter and SUV crash through the White House fence not withstanding. Besides, the Federal Government also provides us with the Smithsonian, the National Gallery of Art, the Air and Space Museum, the National Zoo – and my all time favorite – the Federal Botanic Garden right there at the bottom of the hill upon which the U.S. Capitol sits.
I would say, all in all, that although we truly dislike Congress meddling in our local affairs and we are constantly left off that list of National Parks in the 50 states (BTW we have more parkland per capita than any other city in the U.S.) we rather like the Federal presence here even though the Tea Party doesn’t.
BUT we have fought for many years for the right to elect two DC Senators to the Senate of the United States and our fair share of Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives – you know, that “No Taxation Without Representation” thinggie the right wingers love to toss around - and will continue this fight until we win.
Have a good day.
* Irony of ironies, I was just searching for the total Federal employment numbers here in DC and came across the following from Governing some sort of state and local data org.:
“The map below shows states where federal employees account for the highest share of total nonfarm employment. About 5.6 of all workers in Hawaii are federal employees, followed by Maryland (5.5 percent) and Virginia (4.6 percent).”
The referenced interactive “map” does NOT include a figure for DC even though the percentage of Federal workers here is 28%, much greater than the percentages in the states of Hawaii, Maryland and Virginia noted above.
See what I mean about being constantly dissed?