A Thought on Tyranny

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Techhie’

Sunday, in addition to being We Love DC’s 2nd Birthday, is Independence Day, the day we celebrate our rights to be free from English interference and to self-govern.  Twitter user Keith Ivey remarked that this morning’s reading of the Declaration of Independence on NPR reminded him that many of these same grievances against King George might also apply to the District and her citizens.  Among the obvious ones, I would point out:

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation

While there’s been no plundering of our seas, or burning of our towns, or cutting off trade, or quartering soldiers in our homes, the mistreatment of residents of the District is not to be so easily glossed over. Take some time this weekend to think about what rights exist for the states but not for the District.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All men. Not just those in Virginia and Maryland. Remember that much this weekend.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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3 thoughts on “A Thought on Tyranny

  1. Crucial difference: while the colonists had their rights reduced over time, the District’s history has been an expansion of rights over time. Nor have we ever had representation, and been asked to give it up, in exchange for laws being passed. Finally, the Constitution places the District under the jurisdiction of Congress:

    Article 1 Section 8: “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;”

    Seems pretty clear cut to me…

  2. Good old Article 1, Section 8: “become the Seat of the Government of the United States….” But that’s the heart of the problem. I don’t have any problem with the existence of a federal district for the federal government, but DC is NOT just the seat of the federal government. We are a large city which deals with all sorts of issues (jobs, crime, economy, schools etc.) that have little or nothing to do with the federal government, just as very similar local issues are of importance to voters in MD and VA. I have a problem with lumping hundreds of thousands of DC residents with the federal government because they live slightly closer to the Capitol, the White House and Supreme Court than do Marylanders and Virginians.

    Re: “the District’s history has been an expansion of rights over time.” Yes, we have an elected local government now (since 1975 only) that can pass laws (unless Congress wants to overturn them) and we can vote for president (since 1960 only). But imagine if the 20th Amendment (granting women the right to vote) had only allowed them to vote in presidential elections. Would American women decades later still be happily saying, “Yes, we really have made some progress,” or would they say, “Why are we still treated as sub-citizens?”

  3. Certainly the District has changed since the Founders designed the Federal district. America has changed as well. That said, there’s a process under which the status quo can be modified:

    * Congress could retrocede the neighborhoods that make up the majority of the District’s population.
    * Congress could amend the Constitution to permit the Federal district full congressional representation.
    * Congress could grant the District full statehood (Article 1 permits, but does not require, the creation of a Federal district to be the seat of government; New York and Philadelphia both served without being Federal districts).

    I don’t dispute that the District and its residents (I myself am one) deserve full representation; instead, my concern is with the approach taken by the statehood organizations. Furthermore, comparing the current plight of the District with the plight of the colonists in 1776 is disingenuous; a legal process for changing the rules has been long established and is available at all times, while the colonists had run out of options with the King of England.