- - Thursday, September 11, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Senate Democrats who are anxious about their re-election prospects in November are puzzled that Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, a Democrat, is pushing the fantasy of statehood for the District of Columbia so close to the November elections. His Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Monday on his bill to add two members to the Senate and a voting member of to the House. It’s understandable that the Democrats want to add to their membership, since the District, the Valhalla of the bureaucracy, will be in Democratic hands approximately forever.

But Vincent C. Gray and whoever succeeds him as mayor should hold off on replacing their business cards with cards that identify a mayor as a governor. The City Council won’t move into a grander building befitting a state legislature. The New Columbia Admission Act has no chance of passage. So why the appeal to Santa Claus?

Mr. Carper’s idea is to shrink the federal enclave envisioned by the Constitution to a small area surrounding the White House and the Capitol, and admitting the remainder of the District to the union as the 51st state. If enacted, the legislation would take effect immediately on ratification by a referendum of D.C. residents, and it would set up an expedited repeal of the 23rd Amendment, which gives the District three electoral votes in the presidential election, as if it were a state.

This is transparently a power grab, and the Republicans, who maintain a firm grasp on the House, must not fall for it. The Founding Fathers wanted to ensure that Congress maintain control of the seat of government, to prevent the city of Washington from enacting laws to attempt to influence the national legislature. This attempt to make the District a state is particularly absurd since the city of Washington, with its continuing carnival of scandal at city hall, has not yet mastered cityhood.

Statehood advocates have put their argument on District of Columbia license plates, with its fraudulent claim that Washington residents suffer “taxation without representation.” The facts are that Washington has 535 representatives, just as the Founding Fathers intended it to have. Promoting a city — and a small one at that — to statehood would be a precedent to promote chaos.

Texas claims the right, under its admission agreement, to divide into several states. Californians are debating whether to divide their state into six states. Why stop there? Why not statehood for Chicago? Philadelphia? Kansas City?

Statehood for the District of Columbia is an idea whose time has not come, and never will. Better to pursue a dream of good cityhood, with order and good government, and surprise everyone.

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