You know what would be great right now?
One more Democrat in the House, that's what.
Know what else would have been great throughout this whole health care debate?
Two more solid progressives in the Senate.
What if I told you that with a simple bill, passed by Congress and signed by the President, we could get one more Democrat in the House and two in the Senate, and as a bonus, 600,000 taxpaying American citizens wouldn't be denied one of the most basic civil rights of citizens in a democratic society?
You'd say "Wow! Tell me more!"
Does all that sound good? Then call your Representative and Senators on Monday to demand action on DC statehood.
(Sorry, I won't throw in a free Slap-Chop with your call.)
Right now, as I write this, 600,000 taxpaying Americans are being denied a basic right of citizenship - and the progressive movement doesn't seem to give a damn.
Oh, they say they do, but is it any more than lip service?
How many people here have called their Representative and Senators to tell them that if they don't take action for DC civil rights, they can't count on your support?
How many people here have called the campaigns of the people running for Congress and demanded that they include DC civil rights on their "issues" pages?
How many people here have posted a question in Congressmembers' or candidates' campaign blogs or diaries, on this and other sites, demanding that they take a position and pledge action on DC civil rights?
And how good does our 90%+ Democratic district look now, now that it looks like the health care bill is going to be close?
Don't you wish the progressive movement had taken action on this earlier?
Don't you wish we'd made it a priority when the President took office in 2009?
Couldn't we use another solid progressive like Eleanor Holmes Norton as a solid "YEA" vote in the House?
Couldn't we use two more solid progressive Senators to push a more progressive health care bill over the line?
This isn't the last close vote we're going to have - and if progressives in the 50 enfranchised states don't take action for DC statehood, we're going to be treated to even more nailbiting moments like this one. Oh, and 600,000 American citizens will continue to be denied a basic civil right.
Call your Representative and Senators on Monday and demand that they take action.
Call your local Congressional candidates and campaigns and demand that an action pledge for DC statehood be put on their issues page.
And next time a Representative, Senator, or candidate for either of these two seats posts a diary, demand action (or a pledge for action) on DC Statehood as the price of your donation or your phonebanking or your door-knocking.
It's good for Democrats, good for progress, and it's the right thing to do. What's not to love?
Oh, and before I'm asked, here's a response to a frequently asked question. Feel free to copy and paste it wherever you'd like.
DC Statehood doesn't require an amendment!
Contrary to popular opinion, making DC a state wouldn't require a Constitutional amendment, except to clean up as the process finished. A simple bill, passed by majorities in Congress and signed by the President, would get the job done. Here's how:
Congress is given power over the seat of the Federal government - the Federal District - in Article I, Section 8 (emphasis added):
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;
The key word there is that Congress is empowered to set the Federal District, a space no larger than ten miles square. Such a district can certainly be less than ten miles square - and, indeed, since the retrocession of the part of the 10-mile square that was part of Virginia back to that state in 1847, it hasn't been 10 miles square.
So here's how this works. Just one bill. Congress passes a law doing three things:
I. Reducing the size of the Federal district to the space occupied by the White House, the Ellipse, the National Mall, the Capitol, and maybe some Smithsonians and House/Senate Office Buildings nearby;
II. Declaring the rest of the former District of Columbia to be a Federal territory (Maryland could conceivably dispute this, but since they don't want us back, they won't); and
III. Accepting the Constitution of the State of New Columbia, ratified by the voters of that state in 1983.
After that, all we need is for President Obama to sign his name on the dotted line* and bam!, just like that, DC residents aren't second-class citizens anymore! We have a Representative, two Senators, and the right to make our own laws, just like all the other citizens. It's a Festivus miracle!
Now, as I said, a Constitutional Amendment would be required for clean-up - as we'd need to repeal the 23rd Amendment, giving three electoral votes to the Federal District, since the Federal District would then have exactly zero voting residents. But once the deed of statehood is done, it would be no trouble at all to repeal it. (Not to mention that with no residents, the Federal District would find it impossible to come up with three qualified Presidential electors.)
And that's how a bill becomes a law.* I don't know if the line is actually dotted.