IS TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION ON THE RIGHT WING AGENDA?
HOW 670,000 U.S. CITIZENS ARE DENIED BASIC REPRESENTATION RIGHTS
This taxation without representation mantra is one of the Tea Party’s favorite founding slogans referring, as it does under normal circumstances, to the rallying cry of long-suffering American Patriots as they dumped imported sacks of tea into Boston Harbor back in 1773. The colonists (We The People Pre-1776) had no say in the tax that the British Parliament had legislated. It was a singular event in America’s colonial history and is cited as a key event leading up to the Declaration of Independence three years later in 1776. So let’s assume that the Tea Party of today who borrowed the slogan of the Boston colonists in 1773 who defied the Brits, as the title of their party (or maybe the Koch Brothers chose it for them) would be champions of folks being whiplashed by governments in which they have no say. Or representation, let’s say.
Often in my online battles with right wing types over grazing rights on public lands out West or EPA alleged overreach back here in the East, they very often point out that the Obama Administration has unilaterally (they call it “dictatorially”) acted singlehandedly to impose stuff on We The People folks, not allowing the will of the people to prevail. (White people, at least.) I’ve pointed out to them on many occasions, that they need not go to the Malheur Wildlife Sanctuary in Oregon to rectify one of those “taxation without representation,” “flaunting of the “will of the people,” “big government intrusion into our lives” atrocities than right here in the Capital of the Free Market World, the District of Columbia. Yes, I tell them. Right here there are 670,000 American citizens (more people than Wyoming or Vermont) who are not represented in Congress.
Yes, that’s right. And it’s all legal and Constitutional this usurpation of our birthright as the Tea Baggers would call it. You see, the District of Columbia is not a state. Often included in economic surveys, crime data, population censuses as if it were a state, but in reality we aren’t. And, here’s the kicker-in-the-teeth: the Constitution of the United States only permits representation in Congress – two Senators for each state in the Senate, and proportional Representatives in the House based on population – if you happen be a state. But D.C. is, in formal terms under the Constitution, a “District” and, therefore, not entitled to representation in Congress. Now, from my perspective, once upon a time, Black folks were not only not allowed to vote, they were considered property, the production, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages was prohibited, the Federal Government was not allowed to levy taxes, and a whole bunch of other mandates and prohibitions that once populated the Constitution but no longer prevail. So one could say that the Tea Party would be right up there with us District residents who rail against this representation-less situation. But you would be wrong. For every time I’ve raised this vital issue with right wingers I’ve been met with the most insulting of responses : SILENCE!
And it’s not as if this situation has no impact on us. It does. Primarily because both the House and Senate District Committees (established to rule the city back in the day) still have the power to overrule our local laws. And they’ve exercised this power fairly frequently over our local gun control legislation, over local abortion legislation, over D.C. laws enacted to prevent discrimination against gays and transgender folks, over medical marijuana use, and a whole lot of other laws we here in D.C. and our locally elected City Council have supported and enacted. Recently John Oliver got it right:
Let me show you how this works.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) just last week introduced the “Educational Freedom Account Act” in the Senate and Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) sponsored the bill in the House. What does this proposed law do? You might think that since Cruz and Meadows are from different states, they are cooperating on a measure to allow citizens across the country to establish tax free educational accounts to help finance their children’s education. I mean that would be a good thing. But the “Educational Freedom Account Act” has nothing to do with trying to make education more affordable for the millions of young folks across the country.
No. In fact, the proposed “Educational Freedom Act” would force us District of Columbia (we’re not a “state”) residents to pay for the tuition of D.C. students to attend private schools out of our local tax revenues. That is, I would be forced to pay for schooling of students out of the thousands of dollars I pay each year to the D.C. Treasurer through the D.C. Office of Taxation and Revenue to attend private schools and not public schools in our D.C. Pubic School System. Now, I sent my own daughter to private school for thirteen years, but trust me, the money I used for her tuition didn’t come from some Federal pot of funds, it came out of my own pocket, not anyone else’s.
Here’s what our non-voting “delegate” to the House of Representatives said about this proposed bill:
“Who is Ted Cruz(R-TX) to tell the D.C. government how to spend their own taxpayer funds on education, a great priority in this city? It is one thing for the federal government to meddle with D.C.’s local affairs and set up a private school voucher program with federal funds; it is quite another to force a local jurisdiction to use its own finite funds to pay for an unaccountable voucher program, taking away funding from our traditional public schools and public charter schools.”
Our non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, is Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) a role she has served since the non-voting delegate position was created back in the 1970’s in some sort of move to appease us D.C. residents about how egregious it is that while we have a greater population than two states (again, Wyoming and Vermont) we do not have elected, voting representation in either the House or in the Senate. She’s done an admirable job really, under some pretty difficult circumstances, although she is pretty much limited to mouthing off as opposed to actually having any power to prevent or correct all the interference that Congress seems incapable of resisting into our local business.
But now Cruz can say that he is big on education in his run-up to the presidency and has actually proposed legislation – if it doesn’t get enacted into law – that is pro-educational-freedom-of-choice-patriotic-old-timey-Family-Values work by him on behalf of America’s young men and woman. But of course it’s not.
This whole Charter School business was rammed down our throats by Richard Millhouse Nixon when Charter Schools became the NEXT BIG THING in educational reform. Until now, however, private charter schools were financed by Federal Funds, from money that every public school district in the country receives annually. We didn’t want the whole charter school business back during the Nixon Administration but just as Ted Cruz(R-TX) can meddle in local District of Columbia affairs so too has every administration since the adoption of the Constitution of the United States in 1789. And since that time, us D.C. residents have been taxed and taxed and taxed without representation.
I’m wondering why it is that the Tea Baggers don’t take this up as one of their premier goals? It seems tailor made to me. Maybe it’s because D.C. has voted Democratic in every single election since we were granted the right to vote in Presidential elections in 1961. Or maybe it’s because D.C. is the most liberal jurisdiction in the entire country. Or is it because we are also the gayest city in the nation? Then again, we’ve had a majority Black population since the mid-1970’s. Is this it?
Nah. Couldn’t be for any of those reasons. After all, the Tea Party is one hell of a principled organization fighting for the rights of all Americans to live free, unfettered lives without the oppressive yoke of government holding them back and no way would they let purely political considerations prevent them from rallying to our cause. Just like Ted never-met-a-government-I-didn’t-itch-to-shutdown Cruz. There must be some other reason the Tea Baggers are blind to our situation here in the nation’s capital for their silence on the issue. At the moment, I can’t think of one. But I’ll keep on trying.