Washington, D.C. — Making Washington, D.C., a state would end more than 200 years of disenfranchisement for the Americans who call it home, according to a new column from the Center for American Progress.
Since 1800, the residents of Washington, D.C., have been subjected to systemic inequality and denied the full rights of citizenship that the residents of states enjoy—including voting representation in Congress. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 51 to remedy this imbalance and make Washington the 51st state.
“The district’s more than 700,000 residents deserve not only to have a vote in Congress, but also to enjoy the full benefits of citizenship without being subjected to the uneven and punitive oversight of the federal government and Congress in particular,” said William Roberts, managing director for Democracy and Government Reform at CAP and co-author of the column.
The column explores the history underlying D.C. residents’ fight for their full rights as Americans, including efforts to both advance and suppress statehood. To this day, Washington, D.C., remains the only national capital in the democratic world whose citizens do not have equal voting and representation rights.
The column notes that opposition to D.C. statehood has relied on both partisan objections and racist counterfactual arguments attacking the fitness of the district’s historically Black leaders and population. This trend continues today, with one congressman recently saying the district is “not equipped to shoulder the burden of statehood.” Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) also attempted to justify Washington’s status by noting that other less populous and less diverse states were “well-rounded” and “working-class”—a thinly veiled racist swipe at the residents of the district.
Read the column: “It’s Past Time to Grant D.C. Statehood” by William Roberts and Sam Berger
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