- - Thursday, September 18, 2014


“The facts” as your editorial calls them, are nothing of the sort (“A 51st-state fantasy,” Web, Sept. 11). Representatives are public officials who are elected to represent their constituents (who vote to elect them), not those who merely feel the effects of the laws they pass. Americans started a revolution nearly 250 years ago in large part to show that we rejected imperialistic lawmakers’ arguments about “virtual representation” in the British Parliament, which forced laws such as the Stamp Act and the Quartering Act on the American colonists.

Let’s not pretend there was no controversy surrounding the creation of the District. The actual facts show there was plenty of controversy. Just a couple of years after the District’s creation, a bill was introduced to restore to D.C. residents their full rights. Rep. John Randolph of Virginia said, “This species in government is an experiment in how far freemen can be reconciled to live without rights, an experiment dangerous to the liberties of these States.”

President Obama is hardly the first president to speak up for the people of Washington, D.C. President James Monroe, in his second address to Congress (1818) noted, “[I]t might merit consideration whether an arrangement better adapted to the principles of our government and to the particular interests of the people may not be devised … .” President Monroe wasn’t specific, but he clearly recognized the problem.

I side with Frederick Douglass, who defined full citizenship as “the right to vote and be voted for in the American Republic.” In truth, because of the requirements of our Constitution, the only way Americans can enjoy their full rights as citizens is by being residents of a state.



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