A Washington city leader wants to rename one of America's most famous streets to suit his personal political agenda. In an online poll, Councilman Michael A. Brown is asking participants to choose to rename Pennsylvania Ave. "Give DC Full Democracy & Statehood Way," "51st State Way" or "Give DC Full Democracy Way," among other obnoxious options.
The grand boulevard linking the White House and Congress was named after the second of the 13 states to ratify the Constitution. Pennsylvania was given a central place in the city's original plan to reflect the importance of the Keystone State as home to the Continental Congress. Mr. Brown ignores the rich history of our capital city so he can tack on "ceremonial signs" carrying his slogan-of-the-day. To say the least, it would be ridiculous to have tourists from around the world looking up from their maps to accidentally find themselves on "Free DC Avenue."
It's worth noting that Mr. Brown restricts voting rights in his poll to Washington residents "to ensure a fair voting process." He understands the needs for limitations - but only when they suit his particular purposes.
The Founding Fathers well understood that those living in the area that became the seat of the federal government in 1800 would be limited to having a voice in their local government. James Madison considered it rather self-evident that the seat of government could not be placed within the boundaries of a state without that jurisdiction exercising undue influence on the national legislative process. As Madison put it in Federalist No. 43, statehood for the district would create "a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence, equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy."
Madison added that the inhabitants would find "sufficient inducements of interest" to make the trade-off acceptable. This is a point often forgotten in debates on the bogus subject of so-called D.C. statehood. Nobody living in the District of Columbia has "lost" any right (aside from the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms). The choice to live in the city has always come with the knowledge that representation in Congress would not be part of the bargain. Those who have a problem were and are free to move a few miles over into the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland.
It's transparent that Washington's Democratic activists want their inducements - namely a fat federal subsidy - without any disadvantages. The District and its residents receive $83,196 per capita in grants, contracts and salary checks underwritten by taxpayers in the rest of the country. That's eight times greater than the national average of $10,395. Maintaining this financial advantage while landing two permanent Democratic senators and one permanent Democratic congressman would give Washington outsized influence in national politics. You could fit 17 cities the size of Washington in Rhode Island, the smallest state.
The capital city has placed the motto "taxation without representation" on its license plates and gone out of its way to ramp up publicly funded activism on behalf of increasing the relative influence of the Democratic Party in Congress. It's obvious the District has too much taxpayer money on its hands. Congress should adjust the D.C. subsidy accordingly.
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