Saturday, May 13, 2006

Do The Right Thing

Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia has introduced a compromise bill to grant the District of Columbia a voting Member of Congress. Despite the fact that District residents pay federal taxes, they have only a non-voting "delegate" to Congress. This is the similar to the arrangement for other American colonies (like Guam and Puerto Rico), except those colonies are exempt from federal income taxes.

Back in 1961, the 23rd Amendment gave DC three Electoral College votes for President. This treats the District as if it had two Senators and one Representative. Yet getting an actual vote in Congress has proved to be more difficult.

Thus, Rep. Davis' proposal would expand the House of Representatives from 435 to 437. One new member would be elected by DC and one would be elected by Utah. Some of us find it odd that the voting rights for DC citizens would effectively be negated by a Mormon from Utah -- but, hey, it's a start.

Unfortunately, Rep. Davis didn't figure on the opposition of the true powers on Capitol Hill: committee staffers. As one "unnamed" aide stated, "Why we would want to give a Democrat a vote even if another Republican gets a vote doesn't make any sense." What really doesn't make sense is why we would try to impose democracy on Iraq before trying it out at home in the nation's Capital.

Fortunately, OplusO's research department (motto: "spending weekends in the National Archives so you don't have to") has turned up a remarkably similar situation from the Civil War period. It turns out that Lincoln's plan to abolish slavery was a big yawn among Congressional aides.

Shortly before the introduction of the Emancipation Proclamation, a top aide to the Republican Leadership argued, "Why would we want to abolish slavery? I mean, what's the point in doing that? We've always had slavery and slaves are lucky to have someone else make all their decisions for them. What will they demand we do next: Give women the right to vote?"

1 comment:

Andy said...

I found this on a search for who is writing about our struggle. You are right on - thanks!