A new state?: Why DC statehood is imperative

The flag of the District of Columbia as it hopes to become a state.

Wikipedia

The flag of the District of Columbia as it hopes to become a state.

Lauren Guinn, Opinion Editor

50 States. Something that seems so normal and immutable could be subject to change soon, as the House of Representatives passed a bill last month that would make the District of Columbia the 51st state.

This is not the first time the House has passed a bill declaring D.C. a state but it has never gone past this point. In order to right the wrongs of the past it is time for the senate to follow suit and make the U.S. a nation of 51 states. 

D.C. is the only political and geographical entity within the United States of America where citizens bear all the responsibilities of citizenship, without sharing the full rights and privileges of said citizenship. They have no votes in congress and no control over their budget and laws.  

Senior Maleigha McCulley believes this legislation is long overdue. “Once I found out more about the circumstances surrounding DC statehood, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t unanimously passed,” she stated. 

Throughout the past couple of months there has been a clear instance of a “tug-of-war” fight between the District and the federal government. In the case of the coronavirus vaccine, D.C. felt it did not get what it needed in the allocation plans created by the federal government. 

But, again they had little to no control over the plans and just had to wait and sit idly by until the vaccine production allowed for them to be readily available. D.C. is reliant upon other states and the national government to make decisions for them with no say of their own. 

Senior Sophia Lindquist was frustrated with the distribution of vaccines in Iowa where there was stately control. “I hated watching the vaccine roll out so slowly at first because I knew that was out ticket out of this pandemic,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine knowing that I had no control or voting power at the same time.”

D.C. has had a traumatic year. When the U.S. capitol was attacked by rioters protesting the results of the 2020 election, it took hours for the national guard to respond. Why? Because, even though the mayor requested support from the D.C. national guard almost immediately it is controlled by the White House and the Defense Department.

At first the White House blatantly denied the request, before the situation eventually escalated to a point where they could no longer ignore the issue. If D.C. had been a state, it would not have been up to the White House and the Defense Department, it would have been the mayor’s decision. 

This issue also hits upon another big issue the United States is currently facing: systemic racism. Washington D.C. is a historically Black city and Black people still make up 47% of the population compared to 13% nationwide.

 The American democracy systemically overrepresented White voters at the expense of Black and other voters of color and this is a perfect example. The average Black American voting power is only 75 percent as much as the average white American in the senate. The district’s lack of representation is ultimately oppression and disenfranchisement of Black Americans. 

D.C. does not only deserve to be a state but it is qualified to be one. D.C. has 712,000 residents, which is more than both Vermont and Wyoming and comparable to other states like Delaware, Alaska, and more. 

The District of Columbia also has the money to be a state. DC residents pay the highest per-capita federal income taxes in the US. In total, DC residents pay more in federal income tax than residents of 22 other states, but again, have no say over how and when that money is spent. 

McCulley remembers what the United States was founded on. “Taxation without representation is what our founding fathers believed yet, that is exactly what we are doing to DC residents.”

The District of Columbia is deserving and over-qualified to be a state, yet many in the senate still do not want this passed because they are afraid that the senate will swing in favor of a particular party. But how can we let our politicians keep rights away from people for political gain? It is unethical and goes against what the US stands for. If we want to say we are a free country, we have to fight for representation. The senate must pass this bill and make DC the 51st state of America.