SIMMONS: Same old statehood snake oil won’t sell

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hey, D.C. residents, do Americans really and truly want the District of Columbia to become the 51st state?

Then stop preaching to the choir and stop waiting for Democrats and Republicans in Washington to hop on your bandwagon.

Grab the spotlight and throw down the gauntlet.

The U.S. Constitution spells out the parameters for joining the Union in Article IV, Section 3, and it is an arduous task because it involves the people in the states supporting your cause.

“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress,” reads Clause 1.

Meanwhile, Clause 2 states “Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”

Those absolute particulars say nothing about the amount of taxes D.C. residents pay and nothing about lives lost to war. They also don’t discuss voter disenfranchisement or the well-worn, weak arguments statehood advocates make over and over again.

Stop it already.

Here’s a refresher course.

1) In 1978, four years after D.C. voters exercised their first real taste of limited self-governance, Congress approved a constitutional amendment for statehood.

2) In 1982, the D.C. constitutional convention said the state would be named the State of New Columbia, and approved the election of two “shadow senators” and one “shadow representative” to lobby for statehood. Voters ratified the efforts in 1983 and that same year petitioned Congress. But by 1985, only 16 states had ratified the amendment.

Other efforts have been undertaken, including adding statehood to party platforms at national conventions, but the resounding “no” from 1985 still speaks volumes.

In a kumbaya moment, Congress even readdressed the issue in 1993 — Bill Clinton’s first year as president and when Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House — but the D.C. statehood gambit fell to defeat in the House by a vote of 277-153.

That’s why D.C. statehood proponents should change their ground strategy by first making certain that people in the 50 states want them to join the union, momentum they could carry straight to Capitol Hill.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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