On Statehood

Statehood is not unique. It is not special. It is not a concession. It is the standard political organization in the United States of America.

The Founders themselves waxed eloquently on the importance of states as a check to federal power and guarantees of liberty. To them, as to me, being a resident of a state as well as a citizen of our country is our right and obligation, not a privilege to be granted for perceived good behavior. Of course, responding to concerns at the time, these same Founders did create the District clause, rendering our current status Constitutional, while simultaneously unjust.

It's patronizing to use the problem as an argument against the solution. The District Clause was written with a specific concern in mind, protecting the fledgling national government from powerful states. A real concern in 1787, but laughable in 2014. Nor would the Founders who threw off British rule and superseded their own Articles of Confederation a few years later, find the "it's always been this way" argument terribly persuasive. They were unafraid to challenge the status quo on principles; we should be as well.

I am uninterested in tepid, halfway measures such as retrocession to Maryland or not paying income taxes. I am an American, from a jurisdiction with a 200 year history and identity, and seek to engage my national government on the same level as (almost) every other American. 

As the District's elected Delegate to the House of Representatives, I'll be the most visible proponent on the federal level of Statehood, but for this to work, we need to engage beyond the small but committed circle of activists that have traditionally been the face of our Statehood movement. I applaud their work, but we as a city, need to expand the circle of involvement.

The sad fact is, that while Statehood is important to District residents, it's seen as unobtainable. It's not even considered a long shot, but an impossibility. We have to change that, and a vigorous debate on how we interact with the federal government is a great place to start.

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