"Ok, fine. You've convinced me," you are thinking. "The District Clause is anachronistic and makes little sense in today's world. And yes, the Constitution should be viewed as a template FOR democracy not as an excuse to restrict it. So let's just fix it. Why don't we..." --stop me if you've heard this before-- "...go back to Maryland!?!"
Absolutely. Once Tennessee rejoins North Carolina. Or when the Constitutionally dubious “West Virginia” is retroceded to Virginia. Or someone explains to me why we need TWO Dakotas. Or we even out the three states of the west coast with the fifteen states of the east coast. Or...or...or...
Our country ISN’T rationalized and it ISN’T standard. We are a chaotic patchwork of big and small, rural and urban, and categories less definable. States aren't equal, and were never meant to be so. Once we as a nation decide to change that, and maybe we should, then we can have the discussion about altering the District of Columbia’s historic boundaries. Until then, I’m not willing to forgo basic civil rights for someone else’s notion of organizational coherence.
The thing is, I’m not a Marylander. The District of Columbia and Maryland haven’t had a common political system in over 200 years. Texas was part of Mexico more recently than DC was part of Maryland. Heck, Texas was part of Spain more recently than we were Marylanders. Virtually no part of our criminal or civil code dates back to the time a small town called Georgetown was in the brand new state of Maryland. I no more identify with Maryland than I do with Virginia or, say, Oregon. It’s another state, with their own traditions that I know little about, and care less. I imagine they feel the same way about us.
Beyond this, there are practical problems with the idea.
The effort to align our political systems would be a tremendously complex undertaking, and one that neither the residents of DC nor Maryland have any appetite for. It would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to enact. The District has its own laws, Maryland has the same, how would we merge them? Our school system alone would spend millions of dollars and years of effort better spent educating kids rebuilding itself to work within Maryland's laws. The difficulty in replacing license plate alone is mind-boggling.
Imagine how patronizing it would sound to any other state if someone came in and told you to just replace ALL of your laws with your neighbor's?
At this point, the argument goes down a rabbit hole of increasingly complex scenarios. Keep DC separate, but allow them to vote for their own Representative and vote for Maryland’s Senators. Proportionally align DC with Maryland in the census. And so on. But there’s no Constitutional process for these ideas and eventually, we’re just working to create a complex solution when a simple one exists: just make DC a state.
This is a freshman year political science proposal, proposed by people who recognize the fundamental injustice of well over a half million Americans being left out of the system but looking for an easy way out. Let’s drop it.