Well, the 112th Congress opened its session on Wednesday with a low blow to their surroundings, stripping the DC Delegate of voting on the floor in Committee of the Whole matters. While this website concerns itself more with matters of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and more-or-less ignores the big-domed building in the middle, the actions of the House of Representatives provided yet another setback for any chance for substantial voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia. As a Hill resident, this frustrates me; maybe it frustrates you too.
Now, I don’t work in politics. I wasn’t a politics major in college. I’ve never worked for a lobbying organization. I have been known to get overwhelmed just keeping track of ANC meetings. So I’m not politically-focused. But I pay my taxes like a good citizen, I vote in elections, and I enjoy watching the fireworks on Independence Day. I know that Washington, DC is not a state and the Constitution guarantees representation only to states. (Please read that last sentence in a sing-song voice as if you’ve heard it hundreds of times before.) I also fully admit to living in the District voluntarily, although picking up and moving to a full-grown state would be quite a change at the moment. But I am no less a citizen of this country than anyone else. I’m a professional who along with a cadre other professionals and service providers make this city function and move forward. So why, 112th class, do you deny me a simple and straightforward right—a principle on which our country was founded?
You’ve seen the statistics by now. The most recent census counts the population of Washington, DC at over 600,000. We can legitimately challenge Wyoming to a game of dodge ball now. We have more residents than 59 of the world’s countries (suck it, Greenland). The good people of DC outnumber at least one state with voting rights, yet when it comes time to cast a ballot on taxes or healthcare reform, we are sent to our room while the adults play cards, drink too much, and start saying things they will someday regret.
So what do we DC residents do? The group DC Vote organized a loud yet sadly ineffective protest on Tuesday at the office of now Speaker of the House John Boehner. They knocked but he turned the lights out and pretended he wasn’t home. We could all decide to protest taxation by not paying our federal income taxes, but would that make a big enough dent in the profits for the year? Or would the IRS just assign a few workers to setting up a group wage garnishing program? I’d say we could all lobby our senators but that’s not an option. Maybe we can create a message on all of our license plates…
I propose the residents of DC organize a protest that actually affects the members of Congress in a way that is meaningful to them. If every DC resident (okay, half the DC residents) would drive his or her personal vehicle to the roads around Capitol Hill we would have some serious traffic congestion. At a predetermined moment, all drivers put their cars in park, and then turn them off. When do we do this? The moment we as Americans hate the most – the commute on the day before vacation. That’s right, the evening rush hour right before a congressional recess DC residents take to the streets, effectively locking Congress in their offices: representation without vacation.
Well, maybe that’s not effective. Or safe. It would make a cool YouTube video though. Guess I’ll start writing letters.