Could a Republican House change DC for good?

Photo courtesy of
‘Rep. Gohmert’
courtesy of ‘ryanjreilly’

Jeff Surrell believes that a GOP House win wouldn’t be all bad for the District, as many have claimed.  Specifically, Surrell points to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) who wants to remove the Federal Income Tax from District residents, putting them on par with Guam, Puerto Rico and other US Territories, which are neither taxed federally nor do they have voting representation in the House. I’m not so sure that’s the right path to take.

Okay, I’m willing to say that at least one member of the potential new majority of the subcommittee which oversees the District is not a total shithead, but I’m not convinced that that person is Rep. Gohmert.  In 2007, Rep. Gohmert decided that DC needed no representation, and declared that he would represent DC.

I would imagine that removing the federal income tax from District residents might cause the sort of land rush that many have been seeking to avoid as the city goes through many economic changes, as houses here would be tax-free outposts for the wealthy, and could serve to drive up property taxes as the land grab chases away the poor. That’s no more fair to the District than the current situation, and I can’t in good conscience stand for that.

The problem here isn’t taxation: the problem here is self-determination.

This is a nation that was founded on the principles of representative democracy and self-governance, not on treating citizens like rabble who are unable to rule themselves.  That’s why wise men threw off the chains of Britain’s kings and aristocracy, and declared that all persons are created equal, and that all persons had the right to help determine the way in which they were governed.

The District deserves voting Representation in Congress.  Our population, larger than that of the State of Wyoming, lives with a clear congressional check over its city politics.  In reaction to the governor of Pennsylvania ordering his troops in to harass Congress in the early days of the country, the Founders acted to make the Capitol not owned by any state, but did not in turn account for our proper representation, one of the plan’s flaws. I don’t believe in retrocession, but I do think that DC deserves a kind of hybrid representation that reflects our unique status.

Sadly, as long as opponents can say “Senator Marion Barry,” there will be an effective and clear argument to the contrary. Unfortunately, that will be the extent of statehood or independence for the District as long as he’s alive. Even after that, Republicans will continue to stand in the way of voting rights for the District as long as it remains a 90% Democratic enclave. Adding three safely Democratic seats to the Congress is less appealing to them than enfranchising citizens who have rights endowed to them by their Creator, and not by their party machinery.

Ideals matter, and DC deserves a fair shake in the legislature. Just giving us a refund won’t cut it.

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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12 thoughts on “Could a Republican House change DC for good?

  1. Its always amusing to hear DC residents complain about statehood and representation. You knew the facts when you moved there, or chose to stay there if native born. The depth and breadth of the presence of the federal government and the numerous embassies would make it more of a bureaucratic disaster than it already is. Also, DC doesn’t have a large enough tax base to sustain itself.

  2. It’s always amusing to hear people like Tom M complain that DC residents shouldn’t complain about representation. Where are you from, Tom? There’s tons of federal presence and diplomatic property in the other states, and it seems to work there – or in some views it’s a bureaucratic disaster there too. Weak argument Tom.

  3. Tom,
    I think you had a great approach and explanation of this issue, UNTIL you said that Marion Barry’s existence was an ‘effective’ argument.’ The issue is not if DC residents DESERVE voting representation; there is no debate about representation for Illinois, though they elected Rob Blagojevich. It is the birthright of every American citizen and the foundation of our democracy (which you clearly know from above).

    I appreciate that you know your history and facts, but hope you won’t confuse and dilute them by bringing in Mr. Barry in the future. I would say that baseless arguments like this one are easy to refute, rather than being “effective and clear.” I think you and other DC supporters are more than up to the task.

  4. Leah,

    There are practical considerations that are involved in any argument, and many folks stop short of supporting statehood or voting registration because of that phrase. Is it unfortunate? Yeah. But it’s something that stops people cold.

  5. For the record, I would welcome a repeal of all federal income tax in the district. I’ll take that in lieu of a vote.

  6. DC is plagued by the same problem that Palestinians have in the middle east. (No, I’m not saying anything disparaging about DC residents, or Palestinians for that matter) DC, like Israel, was established by fiat from property belonging to other sovereign states (DC – MD and VA, Israel – Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan). DC residents, like Palestinians, now want a state of their own, but have been plagued by a long history of poor political choices, financial mismanagement, and rampant corruption, which make the powers that be not trusting of giving them that right, at least not yet.

    The most reasonable solution with regards to DC would be for DC to become part of Maryland again, just as VA took back Alexandria and Arlington. Of course, the Mall, Rock Creek Park, and the Federal District would remain under US government control, but the residential areas would become part of MD again.

    Here’s the problem, MD doesn’t want DC, just as Jordan doesn’t want the West Bank, and Syria doesn’t want Golan Heights.

    I’m still waiting for someone to explain where people get off complaining about this after choosing to live in DC, despite knowing they’ll have no representation in Congress. Its a Federal District, created by the constitution. If you want representation, move to MD or VA.

  7. I’m sorry, Tom, but I didn’t realize that by crossing internal domestic boundaries, I could have my constitutional rights stripped from me.

    My bad.

    Also? Your Palestinian metaphor is really quite bullshit.

  8. Funny Tom M, you can’t admit where you live.

    Once again, it’s quite amusing for you to make the statement that DC residents should move to MD or Virginia if they want voting representation. Yet it is the representatives of other states that want to ensure their right to own guns in DC. Funny how the issues of the constitution and democracy only apply when it’s convenient for you, not for every one else. Recall, all of the founding fathers of the constitution also thought that only white men should vote, and a majority of them owned slaves. I guess you must feel your state should go back to those days too?

    You do what you want in your state, I want the ability to decide what to do in D.C. People against DC voting rights are often scared pant less about the possibility of adding three more blue leaning votes in congress or the senate, and instead hide behind weak arguments of tax base, embassies, bureaucracy, choices, mismanagement, or corruption. I guess your state is, and always has been perfect?