As reported on Oct. 21 ("Political Scene: Candidates weigh in on gambling, recession, Fane tower"), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., shot his party in the foot by failing to enthusiastically support statehood for the District of Columbia. His lack of “particular interest” in expanding the electorate shows how inconsistently Democrats work to maintain the integrity of our elections.
Beyond ignoring D.C.’s reliably Democratic voting record, the senator’s comments ignore just how fundamentally unfair D.C.’s lack of voting representation in Congress is. We have a greater population than at least two states, and pay more in federal taxes than 22 states. It is bad enough that our property tax base is crippled due to large chunks of our land being owned by nonprofits, and federal and foreign governments. Tack onto that that D.C. taxpayers also get to pick up the costs of supervising the streets for marches, motorcades, parades and the like, and we’re really getting the short end of the stick.
In the end, it shouldn’t matter what party D.C. supports. The District has been part of the country since Jefferson. I understand the self-interest behind Republicans not supporting full congressional representation for us. What baffles me is that Democrats claim the high road on voting rights yet continue to ignore 700,000 of their fellow Americans in the nation’s capital.
The writer is president of Windy City Inc. and Patriotic Millionaire. He is also Education Committee chair of the Kennedy Center's National Committee on the Performing Arts and trustee emeritus and past president of the Board of Trustees of The Langley School, in McLean, Virginia.