Friday, July 4, 2014


Yesterday on WTOP radio I heard Chris Core give one of his "Commentary & Analysis" broadcasts.  This particular broadcast was on DC Home Rule.  Why should I be concerned about DC Home Rule?  I don't live in the District of Columbia although sometimes I think about living in an urban area like DC.  I do live in Northern Virginia, which is next to DC.  I am concerned about DC Home Rule because DC Home Rule is an undemocratic form of government.  We should not have an undemocratic form of government in the United States, especially for the capital of the United States.  How can this be?  Let me explain.

In the Constitution of the United States, the District of Columbia is setup as a separate entity.  It is not a state.  It does not have representatives in Congress like states do.  DC has one, non-voting member in the House, and it has no members in the Senate.  States have two Senators each in the Senate, and they have voting members in the House, the number of which are based on population.  All members of Congress are elected by their respective states and DC.

Congress has oversight on DC's budget and laws.  Although DC has a city council which makes laws and budgets for DC, Congress has approval and can make changes to DC's budgets and laws.  The trouble with this is the members of Congress who make these decisions about DC are in no way beholden to the residents of DC.  DC residents do not vote for any of the members of Congress except for one, non-voting member.  Thus DC residents cannot vote out any member of Congress that makes these decisions about DC.  They can't do anything about any member of Congress they disagree with, unlike what a person like me ,or anyone else who lives in a state, can do.  We can vote the bums out.  DC residents can't do that.  Whatever Congress decides about DC, DC residents must live with.

An example of this was in Chris Core's "Commentary & Analysis".  Congressman Andy Harris of Maryland disagrees with DC's recently passed marijuana law.  Whether Mr. Harris is right or not is besides the point.  Yes, currently Congress does have the right to comment on and change DC laws.  However, Mr. Harris cannot make changes to local laws made by cities, town, or counties.  Only local leaders of those jurisdictions can make these changes.  It is not right that Congress can change DC's local laws.  Mr. Harris and other members of Congress are not elected by the residents of DC.  They do not truly represent the residents of DC.  Thus this is an undemocratic process, and it must be changed.

What changes should be made?  I am not a lawyer, nor am I a politician (some may say that is a good thing, especially these days).  Should DC be made a state?  Maybe, or maybe not.  Should there be voting members of Congress from DC in both the House and Senate?  Yes!  Should the DC council have final say on DC's budget and laws?  Yes, on tax money that comes from the people of DC.  The federal government does provide some money to DC just because DC is the capital of the US, so Congress does have a say on the amount and purpose.

There may be some other changes that need to be made, and none of these changes will be easy to make since everything becomes political no matter what the situation. Otherwise these changes would have been made a long time ago.  At least they should have been made a long time ago.  Frankly, it is shameful that we have people in this country who are not properly represented in Congress.  Congress has no business interfering in local rules and laws.  They don't do it anywhere else.  Congress, myob!  Congress, mine your own business!

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