Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Taxation without Representation (an educational aside)

I told myself that once I left DC, I would do my best to educate others around the country about the sad state of democracy in our nation's capital. There are over 500,000 permanent residents (greater than the population of Wyoming) that live in DC. They pay federal (and district) taxes and serve in the military and on juries. And they don't have full representation in Congress. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton can vote in committee and participate in debates, but she cannot vote with the full House of Representatives. DC has no Senator.

Did you also know:

1) Residents of DC weren't able to vote for the President of the United States until the Constitution was amended in 1961, allowing residents to vote in the 1964 election!

2) The US Congress reviews and modifies DC's budget. It can annul laws passed by the District Council. The President is in charge of the judicial and penal system. Imagine living in a place where a Senator from Georgia (or pick another state) can change the laws of the land because they don't fit his/her point-of-view? And since when does a Senator from another state represent the 500,000 constituents living in the District?

As we fight for democracy abroad, I encourage you to think of the over 500,000 Americans who are not treated equally under our political system. If you want to learn more about this persistent injustice and efforts to reverse it, visit DC Vote's website.

Image: In 2000, then Mayor Anthony Williams and the Council of the District of Columbia changed the official license plate from "Celebrate and Discover" to "Taxation without Representation" to educate the country about the issue of voting rights in DC.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Today's Washington Post has a great editorial
on this subject which calls the District's disenfranchisement a "blot" on American democracy.