- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2011

Well, Dear Readers, the D.C. statehood crowd is at it again.

Instead of launching a serious, concerted national effort with arguments that appeal to Americans everywhere, they are back to their old incestuous ways.

In recent weeks, they have been talking among themselves, drumming up silly monikers for Pennsylvania Avenue — “America’s Main Street” — and making disenfranchisement proclamations.

What a silly waste of time.

The statehood movement is being re-energized because Congress again is exercising its prerogative to curb voting rights for the city’s congressional delegate and because of the failure of so many past attempts to generate nationwide support and momentum.

So, instead of keeping their eyes on a political prize, advocates indulge themselves in gimmicks, like D.C. license plates stamped with “Taxation without representation” and a lighted ticker outside City Hall that displays a running tally of residents’ federal tax payments.

The latest symbolic gestures include proposals to rename Pennsylvania Avenue with such catchy alternatives as “Give D.C. Full Democracy Avenue,” “D.C. Demands Statehood Avenue” and “D.C. Statehood Now Avenue.”

Those suggestions and others reflect the joke supporters of statehood are playing on themselves.

But wait, there’s more.

Besides the Pennsylvania Avenue renaming campaign, activists are also considering adding a few editorial emendations to the city’s strategically placed “Welcome to Washington” signs.

Those changes, which would be posted at the gateways to the nation’s capital, include the hospitable “Welcome to Washington: Unrepresented in Congress for over 200 years,” “Welcome to Washington: Ask your representative to give DC a vote,” “Welcome to Washington: Denied full democracy for over 200 years and counting,” “Welcome to Washington: Where over 600,000 residents are denied full democracy each day,” and, finally, “Welcome to Washington: Enjoy your stay and join our fight for statehood.”

That last one would say all that needs to be said — except there is no “fight” going on.

What we have here is a debate among ourselves over whether our delegate to Congress should have expanded voting rights or whether another state should be added to the union. In today’s political climate, one can say only: Good luck, but fat chance.

But do you know what?

I’m not certain statehood and voting rights backers even understand that they are not only hurting their own cause with the gimmickry, but that long ago residents undercut the cause by proclaiming that their new state would be renamed “New Columbia.” D.C. voters adopted the name in 1982, and congressional legislation followed in 1983.

But how do they propose to go about formulating a postal abbreviation?

Washington, N.C., just isn’t going to work, because North Carolina, one of the original 13 Colonies, already claims that abbreviation.

The ridiculous gestures for statehood include empty sense-of-the-D.C.-Council resolutions and impotent “shadow” senators and representatives, elected officials who have the authority to … well, er, … do nothing.

The statehood movement is stuck in a time warp, usurped in part by the introduction of modified home rule during the Nixon administration nearly a half-century ago.

If supporters are serious about fighting for D.C. statehood, they would accept the fact that the Constitution, not the generations-old D.C. document on New Columbia, lays out the only true path to D.C. statehood.

The Republican Party isn’t the bad guy, and if statehood advocates think the Democratic Party is their BFF on their pet cause, they are in denial.

After all, Democrats designed the Home Rule Act, remember?

The only road to statehood runs through the Constitution. Any other route — renamed or not — is a dead end.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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