Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Justitia omnibus*

It is amazing to me and should be an embarrassment to us all that the residents of Washington, DC do not have representation. Why should those who live and work in the seat of democracy for the world give up their rights to representation? Every citizen in Iraq was eligible to vote in their elections for their representatives, but not so in Washington, DC. It is time that we as a nation finally right this grave injustice.

"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 legislatures of the States in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings."[1]

This paragraph was taken from the federalist papers written by James Madison, detailing how our federal government shall operate. So that no state would have superseding rights over the federal government, it was decided that the land surrounding the Capital not be part of any state but would be federal land under federal authority. This meant that the citizens of this city would be a people without a country, with no voting rights. The city was basically run by the Congress and a caretaker mayor. Over the years this status has remained for the residents of DC, because many of the residents were black it didn’t become an issue until the civil rights activities of the 60’s.

It took the passage of the 23rd Amendment in 1961, for the residents to be able to vote for the President. While this allowed the residents some representation, it did not provide the full representation they deserve. Do the residents of the capital have any less citizenship than the rest of us? The answer should be no, but unfortunately it has continually been a resounding yes.

I think that one of the reasons it has taken so long to make the District residents full-fledged citizens has to do with the racial makeup of the city. The District population is over 580,000 and over 60% black. Nowhere in the country are there this many white citizens denied representation. It is shameful that we have Americans fighting and dying so that all Iraqis can have representation, yet in our country we will not allow these Americans to have representation. If this is about federal jurisdiction then no federal employees should be allowed to vote. For some reason this is a block of voters no one wants represented. Where are all those voices for liberation of foreign lands and exporters of democracy? I guess democracy is ok for them, but not for a bunch of black folks who are the working backbone of government.

These are the folks who toil everyday in low level federal government jobs or menial labor to ensure that our government and politicians are able to function. These are the people you don’t see on the news or on C-Span, they just quietly go about their business and they deserve to be represented as well. How can we continue to deny these black folks the opportunity to fully enjoy the freedoms so many of us take for granted? This issue should be a priority for the Democratic Party and all those who say they value democracy. There should not be anyplace in this country where those able to vote cannot.

Another reason for the delay is that the voters of the District vote overwhelmingly Democratic. This would provide the Dems with another two Senators and another Representative, which the Republicans have continued to block. This issue should not be allowed to be politicized, but should be debated on its merits. Does every American have the right to representation or will we continue to have taxation without representation for the residents of DC? The political affiliation of the voters should not in any way prevent that voter from expressing their right as a citizen. Here it is we allow corporations and special interest groups’ access to our system, but we refuse a group of citizens because they are black and Democratic? This should be an affront to all freedom loving people everywhere.

Let’s grant the full right of citizenship to the residents of DC and end one of the last vestiges of tyranny left in America. Let’s have “Justice for All”.

* Justice For All

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