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Author Topic: District of Columbia inches closer to representation
Lyrhawn
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Senate Committee passes D.C. Vote Bill

I'm sure most of you already know the gist of the bill. DC would get a spot in the House of Reps, and Utah would temporarily be awarded another seat as well. In reality it would change the composition of the House to 437 seats, one of which DC would always get, and the other Utah would temporarily get until the census moved it around to its appropriate location (and experts predict that Utah will get another seat in 2010 anyway when the census is taken).

The measure failed the last time around by three votes to invoke cloture, and the bill died in the Senate. This is the result from that vote. I took a quick perusal over the "Nay" column and off the top of my head, at least five Republican nay votes are no longer in the Senate, and have been replaced by Democrats. In other words, it actually stands a decent chance of passing the House and Senate, and Obama has said he will sign it.

But that's the short of it. The long of it is a protracted court battle over the constitutionality. McCain has said (and frankly I think I agree) that it would violate the constitution, as it affords official representation only to "states" of which DC is not one of. He also said that if they're going to get a Rep, they should get two senators as well, to which I imagine DC said "Woot!" and every Republican said "well wait a minute..."

In fact I do wonder about the constitutionality of this measure. DC not being an actual state and all, I don't think it should fly, but DC's current status as a non-state with no representation that pays taxes is intolerable as well.

I think one of three solutions has to happen to rectify the problem:

1. Statehood.
2. A constitutional amendment that allows them fair representation as a special exception to the rule.
3. Allow them to not pay taxes.

Frankly that third one is crap. It's not just the tax issue, that's just the catchy rallying cry. The fact of the matter is that they are disenfranchised on a huge number of issues over a wide swath of the political spectrum that they deserve a voice on. As such, I think only 1 or 2 could be a satisfactory conclusion, but I don't see 1 ever happening, as it would afford them two senators, and I think Republicans might be able to come up with a filibuster proof minority for that. On the other hand, they have an even smaller chance I think of getting it passed through the amendment process. Though maybe if Democrats threaten to make them a state outright, there could be some wiggle room, I'm not sure.

At the very least, Eleanor Holmes Norton is probably the happiest person in the country at the moment.

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Xavier
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Being largely ignorant of this subject, wouldn't there be a fourth and fifth option?

4. Become part of Maryland.
5. Become part of Virginia.

I see the benefits of staying independent of any state, but it seems to me that you can't necessarily have your cake and eat it to.

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Risuena
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I think Lyrhawn's second solution is the best option. It gives them representation but doesn't make them a state or equal to a state.

As to becoming part of a neighboring state, I'd think that DC would be more likely to go to Maryland since the land it's on came from Maryland to begin with (Virginia got its half of DC back before the Civil War). But I don't think either option is likely since I doubt either state wants DC with all of its problems.

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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by Risuena:
I think Lyrhawn's second solution is the best option. It gives them representation but doesn't make them a state or equal to a state.

As to becoming part of a neighboring state, I'd think that DC would be more likely to go to Maryland since the land it's on came from Maryland to begin with (Virginia got its half of DC back before the Civil War). But I don't think either option is likely since I doubt either state wants DC with all of its problems.

I also think that Maryland would more readily take DC, because the influx of new voters would be heavily slanted to the Democratic party. While Virginia did vote for President Obama this last election and there is a stronger Democratic movement these past few cycles, I would still say Maryland is by and large more biased to the Democratic party and would be less noticeably influenced by the new DC voters.

Personally, I've supported Lyrhawn's second solution.

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Blayne Bradley
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I like Elanor, shes fiery and stood up to Colbert [Smile]
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Lyrhawn
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I love Eleanor Holmes Norton. She's sassy, tough as nails, and funny. I have no idea what her positions are on pretty much any issue, but as a person, I like her.

And Vadon nailed why VA would NEVER take DC in. People in the south are already pissed that the suburbs of DC around Alexandria and what not in NOVA are pushing Democrats over the top in so many recent elections. The idea of admitting a massive new influx of mostly low income Democratic voters would be a non-starter to probably a majority. I'd actually have to double check the make up of the VA legislature, as I don't think it'd be a state wide referendum. Plus, we'd have to actually ask the people of DC if they'd even WANT to join the state of Maryland or the commonwealth of Virginia. They might flat out say no.

The second solution still denies them the same senate representation that they really deserve, but it'd be better than nothing.

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Blayne Bradley
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we could cede it to another country, make it there problem.
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Lyrhawn
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Who'd want it?
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Elmer's Glue
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Canada, apparently.
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Lyrhawn
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Given Canada's last contribution to DC's well being, I don't think they'd be a very good conserver.
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ambyr
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Vadon nailed why VA would NEVER take DC in. People in the south are already pissed that the suburbs of DC around Alexandria and what not in NOVA are pushing Democrats over the top in so many recent elections. The idea of admitting a massive new influx of mostly low income Democratic voters would be a non-starter to probably a majority.

So how about this: Virginia gives DC back the land that was retroceded in the 19th century (Arlington and Alexandria, I believe), taking the nasty democrats away from Virginia. Virginia goes back to being a red state. DC, meanwhile (now 45th out of 51 in population instead of its current 50th out of 51 ranking), is granted statehood, creating a new blue state to balance out the Old Red Dominion.

Heck, if they want, they can give us Fairfax County, too. That'd make DC the 37th state by population, and have a much greater chance of turning Virginia red. It would also answer objections that DC can't be a state because it doesn't have any rural areas/"real America" in it--there are still some fairly undeveloped areas on the fringes of Fairfax.

Of course, this would cause some rather dramatic budget problems for Virginia, which I believe derives most of its tax revenues from NOVA, but I can dream, right?

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Traceria
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
Being largely ignorant of this subject, wouldn't there be a fourth and fifth option?

4. Become part of Maryland.

quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
I also think that Maryland would more readily take DC, because the influx of new voters would be heavily slanted to the Democratic party. While Virginia did vote for President Obama this last election and there is a stronger Democratic movement these past few cycles, I would still say Maryland is by and large more biased to the Democratic party and would be less noticeably influenced by the new DC voters.

Personally, I've supported Lyrhawn's second solution.

We don't want DC. Its too confusing to drive through. [Wink]

By the way, I like option 2 as well.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Given Canada's last contribution to DC's well being, I don't think they'd be a very good conserver.

Its a matter of perspective. Especially over the last few years, I think repeating that action would have lead to very good conservation all around the world.
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
Given Canada's last contribution to DC's well being, I don't think they'd be a very good conserver.

*snicker* I can't believe you let a bunch of drunk newfies burn down your white house.
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TomDavidson
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Meh. We didn't like that one so much, anyway.
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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
quote:
Originally posted by Risuena:

As to becoming part of a neighboring state, I'd think that DC would be more likely to go to Maryland since the land it's on came from Maryland to begin with (Virginia got its half of DC back before the Civil War). But I don't think either option is likely since I doubt either state wants DC with all of its problems.

I also think that Maryland would more readily take DC, because the influx of new voters would be heavily slanted to the Democratic party. While Virginia did vote for President Obama this last election and there is a stronger Democratic movement these past few cycles, I would still say Maryland is by and large more biased to the Democratic party and would be less noticeably influenced by the new DC voters.

Personally, I've supported Lyrhawn's second solution.

At least then DC residents would start paying state tax for all the kids they send to our school systems.
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katharina
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I live in Alexandria, Virginia, and I specifically don't want to be part of DC. The taxes are sky high, the school system blows, and I like the Virginia universities.

I think DC should go back to Maryland. It's too small land and people-wise to be a state.

I also think Rhode Island should meld into whatever state is surrounding it.

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Stephan
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I say add Prince George's and Montgomery counties to DC, and make a new state.
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The Pixiest
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I wonder how many people so enthusiastic about DC being a state would be just as thrilled with the prospect if they were 90% republican instead of 90% democrat.

How about we give DC statehood and at the same time, split Texas into 3 states and merge all of new england into 1 state? While we're at it, we can split California into thirds. That way we can tidy up all the biggest representation injustices in one fell swoop. The people of Texas and California will have greater representation in the senate, New England with their county sized states will have their influence reduced, and DC can stop bitching about not having representation and go back to doing what they do best. Shooting each other, snorting coke, molesting interns and passing laws on the rest of us that they don't have to follow.


(of the original options, #4 is by far the best.)

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I also think Rhode Island should meld into whatever state is surrounding it.
I don't think you're allowed to have an opinion about Rhode Island if you don't even know what its neighbors are. [Wink]

For history's sake, I say let RI continue to be a state.

D.C. should not be a state.

I'm all for D.C. getting a representative in Congress.

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The Pixiest
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Conn and Mass are next to RI. I'm all for merging them along with NH, VT and Maine.

But hey, instead we could make Santa Clara County a state. We're about the same size and have almost twice the people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhode_island
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_County

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James Tiberius Kirk
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It's about time.

--j_k

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scifibum
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Here's another way to look at it. DC might not have the same sort of representation that all the states do, but they do have representation. Most of the Congress consists of part-time DC residents! They all have a fairly direct stake in the well being of the district.

To move to more traditional representation in Congress I think it does require either statehood (whether it's our 51st - think of the flag industry economic stimulus! - or annexed into another state) or a constitutional amendment to give them reps. (I guess it takes an amendment either way)

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
The Constitution is rather laconic on the process by which new states can be added, noting only that "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union", and forbidding a new state to be created out of the territory of an existing state or the merging of two or more states as one without the consent of both Congress and all the state legislatures involved.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._state#Admission_of_states_into_the_union
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Here's another way to look at it. DC might not have the same sort of representation that all the states do, but they do have representation. Most of the Congress consists of part-time DC residents! They all have a fairly direct stake in the well being of the district.

They have a direct stake in how the NW is doing, yes... But all of DC? Not so much.
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Hume
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Despite working in D.C. and living in Fairfax County, VA (and formerly a resident of Montgomery County, MD), Iíve never really considered all the issues involved around awarding D.C. statehood or melding it into another state.

From what I can gather it would be a task of Herculean proportions to get a decidedly democratic place such as D.C. awarded statehood, when there isnít another territory of equal republican leaning. So meshing D.C. into Maryland or Virginia would appear the simpler task.

However, I know there are concerns about having the national capital located in a single state, but to be honest Iím not clear what they are.

I suppose we could quit taxing residents of D.C., so that the district is treated the same as the remainder of the territories such as Puerto Rico, the Northern Marina Islands, Guam, Virgin Islands, and American Samoa, but something about creating more tax loopholes irks me.

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Stephan
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If we stop taxing them, the IRS will have a heck of a time dealing with all the Maryland and Virginia residents that will claim to be DC residents. I know I would change my address to a family's members house I have living there.

It would definitely double the value of housing there.

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TomDavidson
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Porter, why should DC not be a state if it gets representation? What do we gain by denying it statehood at that point?
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Traceria
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
I think DC should go back to Maryland. It's too small land and people-wise to be a state.

I also think Rhode Island should meld into whatever state is surrounding it.

Hey! We're practically a mini-US, topographically speaking! We don't need DC! [Razz]

*snort* to the RI comment. Actually, it's odd, but someone just mentioned RI while we were touring the Naval Academy on Saturday, because back during the Cival War the Academy was moved to Newport.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Just because, in relation to most pre-existing states, it's ridiculously tiny.
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TomDavidson
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We could give 'em the half of Alaska that no one's using.
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katharina
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The capital not being in a specific state meant more when "state" actually meant more. Now that it barely means anything - federalism has taken over - there's no problem with DC being part of Maryland.

Almost half the district is back to Virginia - why can't Maryland take their half?

If the answer is "because it is an unholy mess", then I don't blame them.

The problem with DC being a state is that right now Congress runs the District. If it were a state, then there'd be a governor and legislature with power over the federal capital. Okay, I just talked myself out of wanting the nation's capital to be in a specific state.

But the idea of DC having the same represtation in the Senate as California or Texas is laughable. I have no problem with the House. I don't like it, though, because the push for Senate is right behind it, openly.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
But the idea of DC having the same represtation in the Senate as California or Texas is laughable.
Same with Wyoming.

I don't have a problem with D.C. being part of Maryland.

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katharina
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Wyoming seems different to me because of the land involved - if there weren't people representing the land as well as the people, it could quickly become a dumping ground for all the stuff (trash, nuclear) no other state wants.

More than it already is, I mean.

--

DC being part of Maryland would be okay as long as there were some proviso to prevent the state government of Maryland holding federal buildings and such hostage.

But I don't think Maryland wants it. DC is a mess and a half.

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Teshi
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quote:
as it affords official representation only to "states" of which DC is not one of.
I'm assuming this distinction doesn't apply to commonwealths like Kentucky?
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Traceria
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
But the idea of DC having the same represtation in the Senate as California or Texas is laughable.
Same with Wyoming.

I don't have a problem with D.C. being part of Maryland.

Knew someone once who insisted Wyoming didn't exist. Do I know you?

You might have a problem if you lived there (MD). [No No]

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Risuena
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DC is funded by the federal government. Would giving DC to Maryland include those funds to support DC or would the already struggling state of Maryland have to struggle even more to cover DC and all of its myriad problems?

I'm with Traceria. I don't want DC back and I doubt that there's a Marylander around who would.

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Traceria
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quote:
Originally posted by Risuena:
I'm with Traceria. I don't want DC back and I doubt that there's a Marylander around who would.

Glad we can stick together on this. [Smile]
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Starsnuffer
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So yeah, can anyone explain why DC isn't a state and what that means in the present day. It just seems silly to me(NOTE: I speak from ignorance) because our legislators are at the capitol making decisions for their constituents (we hope) and I don't see why their being in wyoming or idaho or maryland when they do so would have any influence on their votes.

And it seems simply asinine to say "oh Dc can't get representation because its population votes democratically historically." That's tantamount to saying "you can't get representation because we don't want you to be represented." as far as I can see.

If anyone feels like enlightening me that'd be great.

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Stephan
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quote:
Originally posted by Risuena:

I don't want DC back and I doubt that there's a Marylander around who would.

Move the capital to Puerto Rico (no federal taxes and still a territory). Level all the buildings, except the monuments and museums, and turn it into a Maryland state or National park.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Knew someone once who insisted Wyoming didn't exist. Do I know you?

I've spent a lot of time in Wyoming. I don't think you know me.
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Traceria
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Knew someone once who insisted Wyoming didn't exist. Do I know you?

I've spent a lot of time in Wyoming. I don't think you know me.
That's actually quite a relief, meaning that you are not the individual who said such.
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TheBlueShadow
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quote:

But the idea of DC having the same represtation in the Senate as California or Texas is laughable. I have no problem with the House. I don't like it, though, because the push for Senate is right behind it, openly.

That's the point of the Senate, no? All states having equal representation regardless of size.

I think it should become a state.

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Risuena
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I was just reading a wikipedia article on DC voting rights and I found another option:
quote:
A related proposal to retrocession was the "District of Columbia Voting Rights Restoration Act of 2004" (H.R. 3709), which would have treated the residents of the District as residents of Maryland for the purposes of Congressional representation. Maryland's congressional delegation would then be apportioned accordingly to include the population of the District.[43] Those in favor of such a plan argue that the Congress already has the necessary authority to pass such legislation without the constitutional concerns of other proposed remedies. From the foundation of the District in 1790 until the passage of the Organic Act of 1801, citizens living in D.C. continued to vote for members of Congress in Maryland or Virginia; legal scholars therefore propose that the Congress has the power to restore those voting rights while maintaining the integrity of the federal district.[7] The proposed legislation, however, never made it out committee.
I'd never heard of that before and while it might not be an ideal solution, it might be the best. Certainly one of the simpler to enact and there a historical precedent.
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katharina
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Oh, I like that one!
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Traceria
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Sounds good to me, too!
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rivka
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It certainly seems the simplest.
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Lyrhawn
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I thought about something like that, but I don't think it'd go far enough, and anything further would be TOO far. Things are immensely more complicated than they were 200 years ago. For example, if they can vote for Maryland's senators, and even representation in the Maryland legislature, then one would imagine it's only fair that with such a voice in Maryland state business, that Maryland should get their tax dollars, and at that point they're pretty much de facto part of Maryland, and Maryland gets saddled with their rather large array of problems. In other words, I can see Marylanders having something of a problem with a massive new influx of voters into their midst choosing their representatives, but at the same time having no say in DC affairs. It seems like an unequal balance, and one that might have made sense in 1800, but not as such in 2009.

Starsnuffer -

I bet it wouldn't be hard to look up the history of DC. DC as carved out of a swath of land from Maryland and Virginia in 1790 and made federal land. They built the capital there, and originally it had a ridiculously small population. That started to change around the 1860's more than at any other time, when former slaves flocked to DC looking for protections, jobs, and hoping to get land. Thousands of them ended up settling in DC itself, which is in part responsible for the current makeup of the city.

But it was still federal land, not a territory. Statehood was just never an issue until well into the 20th century, and by then (though really, it would have been an issue well before then), politics made it impossible for the overwhelmingly Democratic area to be given representation. Not since the number of legislators was fixed at 435.

I think a lot of people wonder at the actual nuts and bolts of turning a federal city into a state. What do you do when one STATE is also the seat of the nation's government? It seems like far, far too many conflicts would naturally arise and it'd be too complicated. In that sense, I don't support giving them outright statehood, but I'd agree to having some statehood like status being conferred upon them.

If Wyoming gets two senators, I don't see why DC shouldn't. For every New England state that is geographically tiny, there's a western state that's demographically tiny. Size ain't everything.

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Raventhief
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*de-lurk* Oh god, so many buttons being pushed.

OK, 1, DC. Half a million people, tourism the only "producing" industry. Worst public education in the country. Historical ties with both MD and VA, cultural ties with... well... NOVA and Silver Spring? Sort of? Current say in Federal government: 2 electoral votes once every 4 years. Representation per population: 0.

2, New England: (Why are we talking about tying these together?) 14.2 million people, mid-ranked public education, strong and varied industries, strong historical ties, strong cultural ties. Representation: 1 per 645,600ish people

3 California: 36.7 million people, high ranked public education, strong and varied industries, strong historical ties with... itself, strong cultural ties with... itself, representation: 1 per 689,683 people.


If it ain't broke don't fix it. New England and California are doing ok to better than ok. Leave them as is.
DC and Puerto Rico have problems, bad education, little to no representation, that's where things need to change. Puerto Rico alone should have 5 house seats, and DC should have 1. Particularly if we decide to add in the suburbs. As to it being unconstitutional...

The constitution was not handed down by god, and it's not a suicide pact. If there's something in there we don't like, ignore it or change it. The intent was to keep us from being pinned under a dictator or flailing about aimlessly. Even if it was absolutely perfect for the time when it was written, things have changed. It's inappropriate to rule people who don't have a say in that rule, that hasn't changed. DC and, in case nobody noticed, Puerto Rico are in that spot.
It's better to do anything than nothing. So let's make Puerto Rico a state and combine DC with MD.

But, but, Eric, that will unbalance the political parties.

...and your point is? The political parties are supposed to represent the people, not represent balance in the universe. OK, fine, "supposed to" isn't "does", and we need the politicians to approve our plan. Give another seat to a couple of red states. Nevada, Utah, Montana, and Delaware all have representation less than 1 per 850,000, Montana is less than 1 per 950,000. Pick a couple, add rep. End of game.

Oh wait, the Senate. The Senate is supposed to represent the interest of the state as a whole, not the people. The question is not why does California have fewer people per senator, but why do we think all the people (and regions) of California can be tied together. We know why they started out together, but not why they continue together. Things change. If they can't be represented as a unit, where do we split? Ditto, Texas. Ditto ANY STATE.

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Lyrhawn
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The difference is that Puerto Rico is in that spot by choice. They have a vote every so often and continue to choose to keep their current status instead of pursuing statehood.

When Texas was first formed, there was a huge fight in Congress over what the state boundaries would be. Texas wanted part of New Mexico, and the governor actually sent troops to the border to prepare and take it by force. In the end, they didn't get New Mexico, but they did get the right to split Texas into six separate slave states to try and balance out any other territory that might become free in the Mexican Cession.

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