- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Here we go again. It seems as though every time there’s a change of the guardians at the gates of D.C. governance, elected leaders make a renewed “push” for statehood.

This election season is no different thanks to D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who this week introduced legislation that, if passed and signed into law, would change the District’s license plate slogan from the ridiculously obvious “Taxation Without Representation” to a simple, declarative statement: “End Taxation Without Representation.”

At the very least, the latter slogan makes good sense, underscores an objective of the statehood movement and demands that action be taken.

What it does not do, however, is change the U.S. Constitution and ask Americans the all important question: Do you want Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, the federal district, to become the 51st state?

Meanwhile, the Mayor Muriel Bowser, for her part, said she wants the conversation about D.C. statehood to have a new starting point. What really is going on, though, is she and others are trying to rewrite history with a statehood question on the November ballot.

SEE ALSO: D.C. steps in its own poop again

There are too many assumptions, including whether proper ballot language can receive the necessary public airing and whether the election board and bureaucracy can act quickly and effectively in a few months’ time.

And there are too many post-prerequisites, including answering the question, “Haven’t we been there and done that before?” Congress and D.C. voters have weighed in via a constitutional convention, petitions to Congress and voters in the 50 states having their say.

After all of that, the closest D.C. came to earning — and winning — full-fledge statehood was in 1978, when Congress gave a thumbs-up to a constitutional amendment that would have given D.C. residents full congressional voting rights. American voters, who had seven years to back the measure, finally gave it a thumbs-down in 1985. In between those years, voters even decided on a name for No. 51 — the State of New Columbia. Oh well.

Whether city leaders and statehood advocates consider the glass half-full or half-empty is irrelevant if Americans around the country do not take the road well traveled by the states to enter the union.

The exception is precedent-setting Tennessee, which, as part of the Northwest Territories, remains the only state in the union that did not follow the constitutional and congressional route.

Here again, D.C. is not a territory. It is the nation’s capital, a federal district.

In other words, it is unique.

I understand why mayors and other elected officials call for statehood — after a couple of elections, they feel the glass ceiling bearing down, and the writing is on the wall with regard to the likelihood of becoming a senator or governor.

Still, the latest “push” for D.C. statehood with new license plates and a different starting point are mere taps on the shoulder. For D.C. statehood to be realized, actions at America’s ballot boxes, in court and on Capitol Hill will have to speak louder than any words.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at [email protected]

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