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It's not the spectacles and pagaentry.....
April 11, 2011 6:50 PM   Subscribe

The mayor of Washington DC has been arrested, along with 6 of the 12 members of its city council, during a protest today near a US Senate office building, objecting to the city's use as a bargaining chip while negotiating the 7th Continuing Resolution to avoid a government shutdown last Friday. The bill prohibits the District of Columbia from locally funding abortion services, and imposes a locally-unpopular school voucher program. Had the government shutdown taken place, the DC government would have also had to suspend most of its operations including trash pickup. For those of you keeping track, Vince Gray is the 3rd (of 6) DC mayor to be arrested while in office.

This is not the first time in recent memory that DC's local laws have been subject to federal intervention. Washington, DC's only directly-elected representative was stripped of her ceremonial voting rights in the wake of the November 2010 election.

Preluding the current abortion restrictions, a month later, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to prohibit DC from using local funds to operate needle-exchange programs (all while DC's HIV epidemic rages on).

In 2008, the Supreme Court declared Washington DC's handgun ban to be unconstitutional, in a 5-4 decision.

All previous efforts to bring elected federal representation to the residents of DC have been shot down, most recently in 2007, and again in 2009-10. The 2007 bill would have granted voting rights to DC's one representative, while also allocating an extra (almost certain to be Republican) representative from Utah. The 2009 bill would have stripped DC of what remained of its ability to regulate firearms within its borders. Both bills would have likely been unconstitutional.

Congress maintains the right to overturn any piece of DC legislation within 30 days of it being passed, although incursions into DC's autonomy have most typically occurred as riders to appropriations (budget) bills, including the most current.
posted by schmod (93 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The rich set him up.
posted by chinston at 6:52 PM on April 11, 2011 [43 favorites]


Surely DC has had more than 6 mayors.
posted by kingv at 6:54 PM on April 11, 2011


Actually, it's only had 6 popularly-elected mayors in the city's current configuration, starting in 1975. For a century before that, the President of the Board of Commissioners (all Presidential appointees) served in that function. Home rule is comparatively new to the District. (Yay for democracy!)
posted by Bromius at 6:58 PM on April 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


Haters be hating.
posted by Mental Wimp at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2011


Its about damn time!! Our District has been pushed around to too goddamn long, I hope this accomplishes something.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Washington, D.C. was officially given a government in 1802. From that time until 1871 there was a mayor of the City of Washington (as well as a mayor of Georgetown), then the structure changed to the Board of Commissioners referenced above. It wasn't until 1975 that residents of D.C. were allowed to elect their own mayor.
posted by helloknitty at 7:05 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well that's a sticky wicket. But props for the Magnetic Fields reference in the title!
posted by yellowbinder at 7:06 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow! I stand corrected. That's interesting.
posted by kingv at 7:08 PM on April 11, 2011


Surely DC has had more than 6 mayors.

Nope! There have only been ten mayoral elections, so it's not even crazy Daley-style mayoral terms. Washington, Barry, Pratt Kelly, Barry, Williams, Fenty, Gray. Washington also had 20 elected mayors before the institution of the Board of Commissioners (the first one was appointed), but they're pretty irrelevant to the modern institution.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Decentralization. Less power to the feds. More local control. Your Republican caucus at work.
posted by namespan at 7:09 PM on April 11, 2011 [28 favorites]


It's telling that the people closest to the Federal government dislike conservative policies so much.
posted by Malor at 7:10 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


I take it all the well funded lobbyists who work in DC live in the suburbs then?

As a kid, I always thought that having Marion Berry as a mayor twice was why Congress was reluctant to give DC a vote. Then I got a little older and realized it was because the Republican representatives preferred to deny the people of DC representation rather than let another almost certainly Democratic vote into the Capitol.

The proposal a few years back to give DC a House seat and Utah and extra seat for balance still fell short of full representation, because it only gave the people of DC 1/3 as many Congressional votes as I or anyone in a state gets.

Good luck to the people of DC. I hope their protests and persistence pays off. I have to believe most Americans would be in favor of letting them have a vote, even if it's not a priority for any of us in the 50.
posted by riruro at 7:10 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


(On the brighter side, I've just learned that Fridays bill did not eliminate the $150m appropriation for federally-mandated safety upgrades of Metrorail. The one thing that left me uneasy about Friday's compromise was that congress and the president managed to agree to a total amount, but not the actual composition/distribution of the budget. I'm not at all confident that we're out of the 2011 budget mess yet -- the current CR expires on Friday, and there are plenty of disagreements to be had, especially if DC's politicians managed to convince some of the Senate Democrats' minds today.

This is slightly offtopic, because Metro is not a DC-specific entity. It's a royal mess consortium managed by DC, 2 states, and the federal government. I'm sure you can imagine the elaborate finger-pointing game that goes on whenever something goes wrong at Metro.

posted by schmod at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2011


Grey is in serious political trouble over the most corrupt first 100 days since Mayor Barry. This is a stunt to raise populist ire. Though I'd like to see the council generally advocate for DC statehood and greater autonomy. Alternatively DC should be combined into Virginia shifting Virginia into blue state territory.
posted by humanfont at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


As a DC resident and taxpayer, I say: Fuck Congress. Fuck them to fucking hell. Motherfuckers. Eat a fucking bag of dicks, you pieces of shit.
posted by exogenous at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2011 [46 favorites]


It is a complete travesty that D.C. has so little autonomy, totally indefensible. Sometimes I think that Congress likes to ensure they have every major urban problem going on within a mile or two of their offices just for the sake of irony.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:11 PM on April 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


except Eleanor Holmes Norton, of course
posted by exogenous at 7:17 PM on April 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


Mayor Gray started his term to some controversy that he seemed completely unprepared for, it's nice to see good news about the guy.
posted by peeedro at 7:21 PM on April 11, 2011


The hypocrisy of Jason Chaffetz, who is sadly my representative, in his meddling in DC appalls me. He was elected in small government, libertarian fervor, and set forth as a freshmen member of congress to fight DCs civil union measures and forever meddle in their local activities. This man does not represent me, and I apologize to the people who must tolerate his actions.
posted by msbutah at 7:25 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


I live in DC, and I'm going to try organizing a total boycott of political donations to the Democratic party. If the President is going to sell us out, and give us the same result that a Republican administration would, for my own parochial interests, I don't see the point of giving them a dime. We have a lot of poor women, and a high AIDS rate because of IV drug use. And the President just forbade us from using local tax dollars for family planning and needle exchanges.

What else can we do? Block the streets, I suppose. Might be time for my first arrest.
posted by oneironaut at 7:26 PM on April 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


Let's arrest all other politicians in DC next.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:26 PM on April 11, 2011


I don't understand, this seems like exactly the sort of abuse the totally non-partisan tea party should be protesting.

If the President is going to sell us out, and give us the same result that a Republican administration would, for my own parochial interests, I don't see the point of giving them a dime.

Pretty much, the Republicans always win as long as Democrats refuse to actually stand for their principles.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:31 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


When I first read this, I thought, Man, they arrested the mayor and half the council? On corruption charges, I guess? The mayor's been in a little trouble recently, so that wasn't a prejudiced reaction. Might wanna give "arrested for" details in bold next time.
posted by raysmj at 7:41 PM on April 11, 2011


If the President is going to sell us out, and give us the same result that a Republican administration would, for my own parochial interests, I don't see the point of giving them a dime.

I'm with you. The Democratic Party is too cozy with right-wing extremist movements these days. Enough is enough.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:58 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Grey is in serious political trouble over the most corrupt first 100 days since Mayor Barry.

When I read "The mayor of Washington DC has been arrested, along with 6 of the 12 members of its city council,...", I was momentarily hopeful that someone was finally getting serious about corruption.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:59 PM on April 11, 2011


The hypocrisy of Jason Chaffetz, ... was elected in small government, libertarian fervor, .... I apologize to the people who must tolerate his actions.

Oh, that's all right. No need to apologize. We never expect Libertarians who get elected to Republican seats to do anything other than wield power for their business friends and try to impose their personal beliefs on a whole range of issues on other people.

Oh, wait, some libertarians also try to destroy important government programs.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:59 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


hey look there's a song about democracy in our nation's capital
posted by koeselitz at 8:10 PM on April 11, 2011


If the President is going to sell us out, and give us the same result that a Republican administration would, for my own parochial interests, I don't see the point of giving them a dime.

What's interesting, from just kind of an academic viewpoint, is how weird the Obama administration is. Historically, you kind of expect a new government to come in and abuse its power, especially when the old government was so extreme and hated.

So, you'd expect Obama to be rounding up Tea Partiers and putting them in camps or something. And I'd be against that, but at least it would make some kind of sense. Instead, every abuse of his power has been anti-Constitution and pro-war. You'd expect him to be throwing Bradley Manning a party, not heartily endorsing his torture in Quantico while sending yet more robot planes to commit yet more war crimes in Pakistan, a country we aren't even at war with.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:11 PM on April 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


We're not at war with anybody, and haven't been since 1945. The latter half of the 20th century has been one uninterrupted paradise of peace and prosperity.
posted by Naberius at 8:14 PM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


oneironaut: I'm going to try organizing a total boycott of political donations to the Democratic party.

furiousxgeorge: Pretty much, the Republicans always win as long as Democrats refuse to actually stand for their principles

...continue to fight with each other over arguably necessary compromises, instead of aligning against the party that actually pushes for these idiotic policies in the first place.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:16 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stop fighting with us Riki, go find some Republicans to convince.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're not at war with anybody, and haven't been since 1945. The latter half of the 20th century has been one uninterrupted paradise of peace and prosperity.

HAHAHAHAHA! You're killing me! Tell me another one!

/sarcasm
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:18 PM on April 11, 2011


So how's that anti-nanny-state thing working out.

*Adds another thing to list of things I don't miss about living in DC*
posted by rtha at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2011


So, you'd expect Obama to be rounding up Tea Partiers and putting them in camps or something.
What?
You'd expect him to be throwing Bradley Manning a party, not heartily endorsing his torture in Quantico
....What?

This comment is just so off the wall. America isn't an unstable 3rd world country where this kind of thing might happen after like their first or second election. Nothing like that has ever happened after an election, other then with Lincoln, and even then it was the states that revolted instead of Lincoln pro-actively going after them. He didn't even end slavery until well into the war.
posted by delmoi at 8:19 PM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


President Clinton, in the midst of a tough fight for this own political life and facing Republican control of both legislative chambers, emerged from negotiations with a deal that protected the budget while forwarding Democratic interests. Clinton was, and is, an acknowledged centerist, but he carved out a deal that protected the poor even as he was agreeing to give the Republicans some of what they wanted on the business side. He managed this by not only making his case behind closed doors, but in public. He did it by staking out a negotiating position and sticking with it. He did it by playing chicken with the Republicans in the budget showdown of 1995 and not blinking. When the GOP sat down with Clinton for those negotiations, they did it knowing they were dealing with someone who would take it to the wall and beyond.

Mostly Clinton won at the negotiating table by being willing to lose. By being willing to take a blow. By being willing to be disliked. By being ready to sit there as long as it took to strike a reasonable deal. He won by not surrendering.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


Mostly Clinton won at the negotiating table by being willing to lose. By being willing to take a blow.

Zing!

Sorry. As you were.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:29 PM on April 11, 2011 [22 favorites]


I take it all the well funded lobbyists who work in DC live in the suburbs then?

Generally, they either live in the suburbs or live on the city and send their kids to one of the umpteen private schools DC has for that purpose. There are also plenty of relatively short-term residents who don't trouble themselves with "DC issues" as long as their neighborhoods and shopping areas are well-kempt. There is also cultural segregation of the gentrifiers from home grown locals, many of whom are under the impression that very few people have actually spent their lives here.
posted by zennie at 8:32 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Not to babysit or editorialize my own post, but my personal suggestion would be for the Mayor and each of the councilmen to renounce their membership in the Democratic party. Politically, it'd likely have little effect on them if they all did it together.

Why should the political party that has betrayed us at every turn at the national level be allowed to have a stranglehold on our local politics as well?

A few folks in DC have thrown around the idea of fielding a 3rd-party candidate in 2012 as a protest vote. Because I never want to hear the words "President Bachmann" outside of a hypothetical statement, I think that's a reckless idea (especially since we'll need a constitutional amendment and the support of both houses to get any voting rights).

However, the idea of a protest vote is, in fact, not new. One of our electors to the electoral college abstained from voting (for Gore) in 2000 due to DC's lack of voting representation. This was the first abstention in the electoral college since the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
posted by schmod at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not trying to be rude here or anything, I just don't know my history. But why is DC just Federal property? Why isn't a state? Anyone care to elucidate?
posted by localhuman at 8:41 PM on April 11, 2011


From Wikipedia:
James Madison expounded the need for a federal district on January 23, 1788, in his "Federalist No. 43", arguing that the national capital needed to be distinct from the states in order to provide for its own maintenance and safety.[7] An attack on the Congress at Philadelphia by a mob of angry soldiers, known as the Pennsylvania Mutiny of 1783, had emphasized the need for the government to see to its own security.[8] Therefore, the authority to establish a federal capital was provided in Article One, Section Eight, of the United States Constitution, which permits a "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".[9] The Constitution does not, however, specify a location for the new capital. In what later became known as the Compromise of 1790, Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson came to an agreement that the federal government would assume war debt carried by the states, on the condition that the new national capital would be located in the Southern United States.[a]
posted by hippybear at 8:45 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I almost got beat up by a really big guy in a bar in DC for talking shit about DC. The bartender indicated it was serious, but it wasn't anything that leaving quickly couldn't fix. The lessons were a)do not shit where you sleep b) be a nice guest in the fine city that is nice enough to have you, c)don't ever ever get an attitude toward DC residents. They are serious about their city in ways you are not prepared for.
posted by fuq at 8:47 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


They are serious about their city in ways you are not prepared for.

Unfortunately for them, the Republicans are serious about DC in ways that DC is not prepared for.
posted by Forktine at 8:59 PM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Perhaps DC should simply defy those laws. Have a vote, declare them nullified, do what they want to do, and dare Obama to send in the Army to bring them to heel.

I mean the Republicans would respect that, right? They're all about standing up to the intrusive tactics of the federal government.
posted by Naberius at 9:04 PM on April 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


DC needs to fight it's own little revolution, no taxation without representation.
posted by edgeways at 9:08 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Could someone describe what the effects of this rider will be in practice? Is it difficult for a citizen of DC to get an abortion in Maryland, for example?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:29 PM on April 11, 2011


Malor writes "It's telling that the people closest to the Federal government dislike conservative policies so much."

I'd bet it is the urbaness of DC rather than the nearness to government.
posted by Mitheral at 9:37 PM on April 11, 2011


I'm not trying to be rude here or anything, I just don't know my history. But why is DC just Federal property? Why isn't a state? Anyone care to elucidate?
They didn't expect anyone to live there permanently. It was just going to be the place where members of Congress and the President and the Cabinet lived for a few years while they were in office, and then they would go home. It was thought that it would be unfair to have the capital city in any particular state, so they just made it a free-standing thing with no representation. Everyone there would be represented in the state where they lived permanently.

Two things changed that situation. The first was that the Federal government got bigger than anyone could ever have imagined when the scheme was dreamed up. And that meant that there were a bunch of civil servants who made their entire careers working in the government, and a bunch of support services that had to be provided for them. And the second thing that happened is that the plantation economy collapsed in Maryland, and Maryland slave owners started manumitting their slaves. After the Civil War, even more freed people moved to the city. So you had huge numbers of freed slaves moving to DC to look for work, and you also had lots of white people moving to DC to work in the government. By the late 19th century, the city had a pretty big permanent population. Because a lot of those people were black, though, there wasn't a lot of political will to allow the city to self-govern, much less to be represented in the Federal government.

So the final thing that happened was the Civil Rights movement, which happened at the same time as white flight from the city, which meant that the population by 1970 was overwhelmingly African-American. It seemed pretty problematic that there was this mostly-black, completely disenfranchised population literally in the Nation's Capital. So at that point, DC was given a presidential vote and Home Rule, although Home Rule is entirely at the will of Congress. DC is self-governing for the most part, but Congress wants, they can abolish the DC government tomorrow and put in a government of their choosing.

The most-recent census revealed that DC will soon no longer be a majority-black city, so it'll be interesting to see how this all changes. Race has always been a huge part of the political story in DC, and I have no idea what will happen as the city's demographics change.
Is it difficult for a citizen of DC to get an abortion in Maryland, for example?
I don't think that it's going to be hard to get an abortion in DC. The issue is that if you're poor, the city can't help you pay for it.
posted by craichead at 9:38 PM on April 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


Could someone describe what the effects of this rider will be in practice? Is it difficult for a citizen of DC to get an abortion in Maryland, for example?

For someone like me (adult, relatively affluent, has friends with cars, understands the law and how it applies to me, can speak easily with bureaucrats over the phone, can get time off from work easily), it's pretty easy to get whatever I need without any government assistance, so this law doesn't affect me. However, if I were a 16 year old girl who needed an abortion and a prescription for the pill because my boyfriend refuses to wear a condom? If I were an IV drug addict trying desperately to avoid contracting hepatitis while I'm waiting for a bed in a treatment facility to open up? If I were poor and didn't really understand the system and didn't know why no one could help me get the services I needed? I'd be even more screwed when the city resources I depend on shut down. Those are the people who will be affected.

(By the way, it's not really accurate to say that the school voucher program is "locally unpopular." It's highly controversial. There have historically been more than four applicant children for each available slot in the program, and there are many more parents who are willing to try basically anything to get their kid out of a DC public school this year. There is certainly dispute about whether vouchers are the right answer for DC in the long-term, and especially about whether this particular voucher program is working. But to call it "unpopular" is ignoring the opinions of thousands of families who live and work and send their kids to school in DC, and that's exactly what we're all railing against the feds for doing.)
posted by decathecting at 9:49 PM on April 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


They are serious about their city in ways you are not prepared for.

I was only born in the district (GW University Hospital), grew up in suburban Prince George's County, Maryland, have bounced around the country since, and currently live in Baltimore (City), MD, and have since 2006.

Yet, if I have to pick a home, I'll still say it's DC (though Baltimore is an extremely close, neck-and-neck second). And I still froth at the mouth in rage whenever I hear about shit like this.

Let us recognize this for what it is: It's the continuation of mostly a mostly-white, disproportionately Southern and Midwestern, and extremely disproportionately wealthy Congress calling the shots over the "slaves" in the "urban" (which means black and/or snowball's-chance-in-hell-of-voting-Republican) plantations that immediately surround them in the District.

I don't know if you have to be from this area (something which precious, precious few of the people who currently live in it can actually claim to be), but you can almost feel the racial and socioeconomic tensions and hatred in the air in the "DMV." So many outsiders with such hostility for the locals, and vice-versa. It's somewhat of a ticking time bomb, in a sense.

Of course, with DC gentrifying constantly, and the majority-black status of the city potentially disappearing by the time the next census rolls around, maybe we will see the District finally get proper representation . . . when there aren't so many of those annoying black people living there.

Sigh.

Yep, you'd better believe that at 36 and having never actually lived in the District, I am serious about (what I still consider to be, and probably always will consider to be) my city.
posted by CommonSense at 10:25 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


it's pretty easy to get whatever I need without any government assistance, so this law doesn't affect me

Not to disagree with your overall point, but I've seen the idea that someone can get around without the help of the government in the world a lot, and I don't think it's strictly true. Yes, you (the royal you, not you specifically, decathecting) don't have to directly interact with government employees to go about your business, but you are just as dependent on government services as someone who does directly interact with government employees does. You consume those services in the form of protection for the companies you deal with, good education for your peers (friendly environments for nonprofits and private schools, too), and good communication and transportation infrastructure to make sure you're informed and well-supplied. Not to mention the technology you use is based on government-funded basic research a lot of the time (and DARPA, which is its own category). And most of your personal interactions with friends and strangers are smoothed over by the fact that legal enforcement is an effective deterrent for a lot of obviously disruptive behaviors. We're constantly improving those all the time so that things that were once considered distastefully cruel to some but necessary for the majority are now not done any more (e.g. discrimination and [some types of] predatory lending).

In some senses, not having to interact with government employees directly is kind of an extra level of service. The best servant is the one you don't see or have to command, right? So in a very real sense, when you don't have to think about the government at all, it means that the government is being incredibly useful and efficient for you. And that's my thought for the day, sorry for the derail.
posted by breath at 10:27 PM on April 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Obama White House has been really weird on AIDS. They cut funding to fight AIDS in Africa and now they're working against needle exchange. Unless this turns around this is reason enough for me to vote against Obama in 2012: Bush, for all of his evil, was actually passionate in his support of fighting AIDS in Africa. Go figure.
posted by Avenger at 10:41 PM on April 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've lived in DC for the past four years, and even that's not true. I've lived the past three in Alexandria, with only one year in the District proper, but hell yes we get serious about this city.

It's telling that the people closest to the Federal government dislike conservative policies so much.

I don't want to put words into Malor's mouth about the gist of this comment, but when you have no representation, and "conservative" policies fuck you over by name, because the politicians pushing for them know that you have no recourse, and those same politicians (Jack Kemp excepted) make damn sure to keep you unreprestned purely because you wouldn't vote for them if you had representation, and besides all of that you are poor and black and urban and have thus been "othered" and demonized by "conservative" politician for your entire lifetime in order to scare and win over white suburban voters, well, yeah. I guess it's telling.

It is, indeed, telling that the most concentrated group of victims of conservative class warfare would not be largely in favor of those policies.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:45 PM on April 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


same as telling.
posted by clavdivs at 10:53 PM on April 11, 2011


Avenger: Let me put on my cynical hat here for moment. Obama V. Bush in the matter of AIDS funding is largely a matter of getting undecided/centrist voters to vote for them. Bush positioned himself as being "compassionate" by pushing for AIDS funding in Africa and attracted some voters who support the issue who normally wouldn't vote for him. Not a lot, but enough. It's not like a signifgiant number of committed GOP voters were going to stay home/vote for Kerry just because Bush favored a program that they might not agree with. Obama has done the same thing for the 2012 cycle, only in reverse. He buys himself some "fiscal conservative" street cred by cutting funding, knowing that a large portion of his base isn't going to abandon him for doing so (he hopes).
posted by KingEdRa at 10:55 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


DC needs to fight it's own little revolution, no taxation without representation.

I remember several years back I was coming home to visit from collect, and I was remarking to my family that I saw a cute vanity plate in Virginia. It was a DC plate that said "Taxation Without Representation." It was explained to me that is what the official plate of Washington D.C. Indeed it is.

No taxation without representation is, from what I remember from elementary school, a rough summary as to why Americans fought the revolutionary war. How this is at all tolerated at all boggles the mind. Is 50 just too nice and round of a number?

I grew up around there. My heart goes out to everyone who lives in DC proper because they are denied the rights that are guaranteed to all American citizens. I'd be enraged but this has been going on my entire life and it's really hard to stay irate for more than a decade.
posted by chemoboy at 12:04 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Curse you spell check for making me so lazy. By collect I meant college.
posted by chemoboy at 12:05 AM on April 12, 2011


Hmmm.. curious. "Locally-unpopular school voucher program"? Could someone from DC please expound on that one? Because I have never read about of an unpopular school voucher program, except by maybe teacher's unions. Is there something unusual or extremely narrow about the DC program?
posted by insulglass at 4:25 AM on April 12, 2011


Alternatively DC should be combined into Virginia shifting Virginia into blue state territory.

The best plan would be for residential DC to rejoin Maryland, since that wouldn't effect the balance of power in Congress and would give us access to the Senate which is where the real power is. I got this idea from Jason Chaffetz, so he can't be all bad.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:26 AM on April 12, 2011


The best plan would be for residential DC to rejoin Maryland, since that wouldn't effect the balance of power in Congress and would give us access to the Senate which is where the real power is. I got this idea from Jason Chaffetz, so he can't be all bad.

This is the best suggestion I've seen. I worked on Capitol Hill, but lived in NoVa, and like many others here, I'm still passionate about what happens in DC. If DC were subsumed into Maryland, they'd probably net one or two house seats and get senatorial representation.

It is amazing to watch conservatives, who are all about small, local government, be so dissonant about their opinions regarding representation for DC. There is no reason that more than half a million people should not get represented in Congress. According to 2009 data, there are 14 districts that have less population than the district, yet get one representative. There is one state (Wyoming) that gets one representative and two senators, even though its entire population is less than the District's. Congress continues to disenfranchise half a million Americans that deserve the right to be represented in the legislative branch of our government.
posted by SNWidget at 4:55 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


What ever happened to the proposal to take "no taxation without representation" and do just that: exempt DC residents from Federal income tax? I figured it stood a chance of happening, as it would be a sure way for the rich to screw over everyone else some more, as anyone with enough money would established residency there.
posted by fings at 6:02 AM on April 12, 2011


Avenger: Let me put on my cynical hat here for moment. Obama V. Bush in the matter of AIDS funding is largely a matter of getting undecided/centrist voters to vote for them. Bush positioned himself as being "compassionate" by pushing for AIDS funding in Africa and attracted some voters who support the issue who normally wouldn't vote for him. Not a lot, but enough. It's not like a signifgiant number of committed GOP voters were going to stay home/vote for Kerry just because Bush favored a program that they might not agree with. Obama has done the same thing for the 2012 cycle, only in reverse. He buys himself some "fiscal conservative" street cred by cutting funding, knowing that a large portion of his base isn't going to abandon him for doing so (he hopes).

From the articles I read at the time, Bush's insistence on funding HIV prevention and treatment was real; he pushed for it even though there was a political risk and not a lot of political benefit. It is incredibly clear that HIV is not Obama's issue -- whatever it is that he cares about, it is not this. It's disappointing, and certainly makes me think less of him. I doubt I'd vote against him (and if so, it wouldn't be over one issue), because on the aggregate he is better than any of the GOP candidates being talked about. But like I said, it's one more weaselly disappointment.
posted by Forktine at 6:15 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


The best plan would be for residential DC to rejoin Maryland

Except that this option polls incredibly poorly among the residents affected.

Maryland does not want DC inside of its borders, and DC does not want to become a part of Maryland. Looking at Maryland's maliciously incompetent administration of Prince George's County, it's really hard to blame them either.

This option has been on the table since the earliest days of the DC statehood movement, and has never been viable.

Folks around here would likely be more amenable to forming a new state out of DC+Arlington+Alexandria (which were originally both part of DC). Of course, this cannot happen without Virginia's consent, and that too is unlikely to happen. Even though the absence of Arlington would likely tip VA toward being a solidly republican state, it would also eliminate Richmond's single largest source of tax revenue.
posted by schmod at 6:38 AM on April 12, 2011


DC joining Maryland for representation in the House would actually be remarkably awkward - the city is about 15% smaller than the average congressional district would be from Maryland if the District joined and added one seat. If Maryland gained two seats it would be close to equal to the District's population, but Maryland would rank at the bottom of more-than-a couple-representatives states by population/seat by quite a bit. A house district would either have to ignore the District's boundaries or just be really skewed.
posted by The Bridge on the River Kai Ryssdal at 6:40 AM on April 12, 2011


Except that this option polls incredibly poorly among the residents affected.

Cite? I'm not saying it isn't true, I'm just curious. If that is the case, especially in regards to the administration within PG County, I wouldn't be surprised. I feel like the DC+Arlington+Alexandria thing is even further out, though, if only because I don't think that those in the NoVa burbs would want to leave Virginia (as well as your point in Virginia not wanting to let them go).

A house district would either have to ignore the District's boundaries or just be really skewed.

If they get drawn into Maryland, then you ignore the district's boundaries and cut the lines how you would in normal apportionment. I'd always heard it mentioned that basically the National Mall plus a few blocks would be federal, and then the rest of the city would just be another city in Maryland.

I'm not saying it's a perfect plan, and I really think that just making DC a "state" or a "represented district" or whatever you want to call it is the best option. Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever see that reality for a multitude of reasons, most of which have been described in the preceding comments.
posted by SNWidget at 6:52 AM on April 12, 2011


Previously.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:28 AM on April 12, 2011


Bush, for all of his evil, was actually passionate in his support of fighting AIDS in Africa. Go figure.

And he was just as passionate about refusing to advocate for funding for AIDS treatment at home, where it mattered just as much. Funding in the Bush administration for domestic HIV care, treatment, and prevention was either minimal increases, flat, or cut all of the FYs he was in office.

As for Obama, his administration proposed moderate increases in domestic funding for the FY 2011 and 2012 budgets. It is House Republicans who are pushing massive cuts in AIDS funding in the 2011 CR and the FY 2012 budget. Go figure.
posted by blucevalo at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why does DC even have a mayor? DC should for all intents and purposes be run as a national park that only contains federal buildings and grounds. Other than possibly elected officials, DC should not have any residents. They should all either be in Virginia or Maryland. Then there would be no more of this we don't have an elected representative crap. You don't have a representative because you don't live in a state.
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:27 AM on April 12, 2011


The Federal government should stop telling DC's residents what to do!

Let's force all of DC's residents to become Maryland residents without asking them whether they actually want to or not!
posted by schmod at 8:36 AM on April 12, 2011


The polls I could find showed DC residents' support for school vouchers at 11% in 1981, 56% in 1998, 25% in 2002, 62-79% in 2009, 61-74% in 2011...

Clearly the responses are going to depend on just how the questions are asked, but I agree with decathecting that "controversial" would have been much more accurate than "unpopular".
posted by roystgnr at 9:02 AM on April 12, 2011


Looking at Maryland's maliciously incompetent administration of Prince George's County, it's really hard to blame them either.

You mean Prince George County's maliciously incompetent administration. The large counties in Maryland have far more autonomy than in most other states. It isn't the governor's or the General Assembly's fault that courrpt county executives and councilmen were elected.

DC would have a lot more say in Annapolis than it does in Washington. This isn't saying much; I'm sure Baltimore would like more latitude, but it's better than the yoke of Congress.

Alternatively DC should be combined into Virginia shifting Virginia into blue state territory.

The current territory of DC was a gift from Maryland, and while no one in Maryland actually wants that basketcase of a city, my hatred of Virgina won't tolerate them stealing our land.
posted by spaltavian at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2011


Let's force all of DC's residents to become Maryland residents without asking them whether they actually want to or not!

Err, right now Congress forces lots of things on DC without ask us what we want. This way, at least, we'd start to have a say going forward. And it's the most palatable of a bunch of bad options, especially if you consider that any plan will have to satisfy BOTH Republicans and Democrats.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2011


especially if you consider that any plan will have to satisfy BOTH Republicans and Democrats.

And 3/4 of the states, because the designation of the federal city as being separate from the states can't be undone without amending the Constitution.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 AM on April 12, 2011


I don't see why D.C. needs to become part of any state. D.C. should stay outside of any state. However what is D.C. should change. Any residential areas and non-governmental commercial areas should be give over to the appropriate state. D.C. should remain as Federal Land.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:02 AM on April 12, 2011


Any residential areas and non-governmental commercial areas should be give over to the appropriate state. D.C. should remain as Federal Land.

Every suggestion about returning the Maryland cession includes a provision of a federal district to remain around the Capitol, White House, etc. We're talking about the people in the city of Washington, no one is saying give Maryland control of Capitol.
posted by spaltavian at 10:13 AM on April 12, 2011


Oh, I see. My misunderstanding. Carry on.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:31 AM on April 12, 2011


What I'm saying is give Maryland control of the Capitol. Then install a John Waters - Tim Kreider junta.
posted by jtron at 10:34 AM on April 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


How about we ban people from living in DC? It's the Federal Capitol. If you have business there, then you can stay in one of the federally provided dorms. Otherwise, thanks for visiting the Washinton Monument today, no go stay in a hotel in Maryland for the night and come back for the museum tomorrow...
posted by mikelieman at 10:56 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


no+w = now.
posted by mikelieman at 10:57 AM on April 12, 2011


Folks around here would likely be more amenable to forming a new state out of DC+Arlington+Alexandria (which were originally both part of DC). Of course, this cannot happen without Virginia's consent, and that too is unlikely to happen. Even though the absence of Arlington would likely tip VA toward being a solidly republican state, it would also eliminate Richmond's single largest source of tax revenue.
posted by schmod at 9:38 AM on April 12 [+] [!]

As a resident of Fairfax County (one out from Arlington), I would love to see Northern Virginia take a cue from West Virginia, secede and form its own state. That way we could keep our tax dollars away from Richmond and use them to build roads and public transportation that are desperately needed (and blocked by Richmond). I never considered taking DC with us before, but I'm game.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2011


Obama V. Bush in the matter of AIDS funding is largely a matter of getting undecided/centrist voters to vote for them. Bush positioned himself as being "compassionate" by pushing for AIDS funding in Africa and attracted some voters who support the issue who normally wouldn't vote for him. Not a lot, but enough. It's not like a signifgiant number of committed GOP voters were going to stay home/vote for Kerry just because Bush favored a program that they might not agree with. Obama has done the same thing for the 2012 cycle, only in reverse.

Bush gave his conservative/rich supporters plenty of rewards. What has Obama given progressives?

Let us recognize this for what it is: It's the continuation of mostly a mostly-white, disproportionately Southern and Midwestern, and extremely disproportionately wealthy Congress calling the shots over the "slaves" in the "urban" (which means black and/or snowball's-chance-in-hell-of-voting-Republican) plantations that immediately surround them in the District.

That's exactly what it is. It is embarrassing for the country. The U.S. Constitution fails yet again.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:58 AM on April 12, 2011


It is amazing to watch conservatives, who are all about small, local government, be so dissonant about their opinions regarding representation for DC.

That's because the talk about being all for 'small, local government' is mostly a pile of bullshit. They are all about massive government control of minorities, the poor, people who vote differently, and anyone who might make them nervous in a crowd. Conservatives in power have never wanted 'small, local government', they want a completely warped but entrenched power structure that shunts money to the powerful as quickly as possible, while oppressing their political and social enemies.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:27 AM on April 12, 2011


Bush gave his conservative/rich supporters plenty of rewards. What has Obama given progressives?

It's not easy to give anybody anything positive with the hamstrung and watered-down version of a federal government we've got now, a government so completely toothless it often doesn't even have the authority to enforce regulations already on the books.

We've been steadily bleeding away federal (and even local governmental) resources and authority over the last two decades. Over that time, we've also largely ceded control over the electoral process to corporate interests. Meanwhile, virtually every state and federal entity in existence has seen its operating mission reformulated as being primarily concerned with partnering with the private sector to ensure continuing economic growth (because we're "Open for Business!"). Right now, for instance, there's an estimated 6 private contractor employees in the US federal government for every 1 federal employee. Why? Because we haven't grown the Federal government at all since the early 90s--and I would argue, going back even further--and the solution has been to give money to the private sector to handle the lack of internal capacity. We've been spending and spending on government services but haven't actually expanded the government at all.

The whole mess is, IMO, way deeper and farther along the road to hell than many of you are still supposing. And I doubt even Ghandi/Buddha/Jesus/Superman if he were president would be in a much better position to "reward progressives." It's easy to give away favors when you're a Republican: all you have to do is prevent some part of the system from working how it's supposed to in a way that makes some of your deep-pocketed supporters more money or that provides them some other kind of business or deal-making advantage; progressive politics have only ever succeeded in the US when there was a substantially unified political movement pushing for specific reforms. People forget that there were massive strikes even under FDR, and that these popular movements helped provide the political cover and leverage to push through reforms. As far as I know, never in US history, however, has the government moved toward progressive goals simply through the machinations of the various political bodies that make up the state. The people of the US have to get out on the streets and start making things unbearably inconvenient for establishment interests to make reforms that benefit them happen, regardless of who's in office. That's how it always works. I challenge anyone to name a single major progressive reform that wasn't preceded by massive strikes or other forms of civil disobedience. And getting it right matters, when you're trying to implement progressive reforms, so the analysis is a lot more complicated. It's not easy to form a more perfect union, but its a lot easier to undermine and dismantle a failing one.

I'm not saying Obama is blameless here or elsewhere, but without people powering the change, nothing is going to change, regardless of who sits behind that big desk in the White House. That's nothing new.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:44 AM on April 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


and the solution has been to give money to the private sector to handle the lack of internal capacity.

This is a most excellent point and one that is not made often enough. The conservative notion that privatizing = more efficiency needs to be challenged with data. If careful analysis shows that privatizing has led to less costly government services, then by all means lets trumpet that to the heavens and continue it. But something tells me that if this could be demonstrated with government data, the Heritage Foundation, the CATO Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Hoover Institute would be shouting it from the rooftops. Instead we have crickets.

It's time to take the offensive on all the conservative canards regarding the unwavering good of the market, the benefits of privatization of government services, the moral hazards of social safety nets and single-payer healthcare, and the evils of progressive taxation. We need the non-aligned think tanks to take these on empirically and make sure the results get as much play as the fact-free memes of the conservative "think tanks".
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:45 PM on April 12, 2011


You don't need sophisticated analysis to see that, all other things being equal, privatizing cannot equal increased efficiency. In certain specialized technical fields, maybe, while the private sector has some kind of short-term advantage in familiarity with new tech or whatever--but over the longterm, there's no good economic argument to be made for privatization of public services coming out cheaper. As a profit-seeking company, you literally have to mark up some amount over your operating costs for profit. As a public entity, you can be revenue neutral forever and that's just fine.

If you've got to make profit, you've got to find a way to make the materials cheaper, or to screw either the laborers or the consumers of a good or service over. The profit motive requires economic inefficiency in the operation of a business. It has some other perks that in a lot of cases offset that downside, but come on: the original conservative arguments against the government being a major service provider were on the basis that, because they lacked a profit motive, public service providers would necessarily be too efficient and out-compete the private sector and that would create all sorts of government monopolies (since private competitors would need to mark up their goods to generate profits, while the government could operate the services at cost).

The "movement conservatives" have conveniently shifted their original arguments to their direct logical opposite in recent years in order to pull off this latest public cash grab. They did it over such a long period of time and so subtly that most people didn't even notice they were flip-flopping.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:14 PM on April 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


saulgoodman, I agree completely with your conceptual analysis, but I think, on the whole, the other side tends to make what they consider logical arguments why privatization is wonderful, etc. I was thinking more of data-driven analyses that compare actual costs of equivalent government-provided functions vs. private sector provided functions, especially where those functions have passed between government and private sector. I think it would be easy to show in the case of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan compared to earlier wars that costs have escalated in real dollars. Looking at local governments that have outsourced activities previously performed by governments would provide additional data. Not an econometrician myself, but believe this would be fairly easy for a real one to do.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:35 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure of the exact specifics of the program, but I also noticed that it provides $7,500 a year for certain low-income students to attend a private school.

There are virtually no private schools in the DC area that would be affordable for a low-income family, even with a $7,500 subsidy. I find it highly suspect that this actually increases educational opportunities for anybody.

The ones that are cheap are almost always religiously affiliated, and not particularly better than the various public options.
posted by schmod at 2:02 PM on April 12, 2011


The city has a larger population than Wyoming. It's really obscene that there are that many people unrepresented in Congress.
posted by EarBucket at 2:09 PM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


An update to my last comment: the CR agreed on to stop the government shutdown on Saturday will cut $1 billion from HIV and disease-prevention funds. Great job, Congress and Obama.
posted by blucevalo at 2:19 PM on April 12, 2011


Was Washtington DC's government meant to be a satirical joke? Having an urban city be directly legislated by federal representatives and senators, many from places that certainly aren't urban and that don't share the same problems, goes against my understanding of what a local government should be like. People should be able to vote for the people who make their policy. It just seems like we're basing our federal government in a city that's not run at all like we intend to run our state or federal governments.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:37 PM on April 12, 2011


It's not that DC's government is supposed to be a joke, it's that DC was never supposed to be an urban city.
posted by Justinian at 5:24 PM on April 12, 2011


Was Washington DC's government meant to be a satirical joke?

It is a real-time satire of trusting people in power to give up even a tiny, meaningless piece of that power for the greater good, yes.

But keep in mind also that while a shockingly large percentage of the district's population is in poverty, it is richer by far per capita than any state. I believe that there are a lot of filthy rich people in DC who are that rich because of their connections to the federal government, who would rather keep control in the hands of those they know than to put any in the hands of local politicians who might make them pay taxes to pay for silly things like a decent school.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:25 PM on April 12, 2011


I assume Baltimore would not like Washington, DC to become part of Maryland, because then two major urban regions with similar demographics and problems would be fighting for state revenues. There's also intangible chest-beating rivalry.
posted by bad grammar at 5:47 PM on April 12, 2011


it's that DC was never supposed to be an urban city.

Completely false. I honestly have no idea why this meme/myth is so popular and pervasive. It is one of the only places in the US that was explicitly designed as an urban area from the very time that it was settled.
posted by schmod at 8:25 AM on April 13, 2011


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