The District of Columbia owes its existence to fear that a Jacobin mob might overwhelm the federal government and that a state government might be unwilling to protect it. Pennsylvania’s failure to act during against a mutiny by soldiers who wanted more pay propelled the creation of the federal enclave.
For all their efforts to prevent against authoritarianism though the separation of powers and robust federalism, the Founders never anticipated that the true danger might come from a president seeking to exert authority over Congress. Until Wednesday, it had never happened in the history of our country.
The encouragement by the president of this insurrection and attack on the federal legislature and then his failure to act protect Congress against this attack upended the narrative with the District, Maryland and Virginia coming to the aid of the besieged Capitol. America is fortunate the leaders of the District and neighboring states are committed small-d democrats and small-r republicans.
No people or place should have to earn their freedom. But the District surely did once again in coming to Congress’s aid. It’s time to end the bizarre situation in which the roughly 700,000 citizens in the District are denied democratic representation. The Maryland General Assembly should pass a resolution relinquishing its claim to the District, and Congress should admit the state of New Columbia to the Union.
Republican dress up their objections in a variety of cloaks but they all boil down to opposing statehood because its citizens vote Democratic. The even less appetizing rationale is that too many District citizens are Black. Either way, it’s an extension of the unacceptable efforts of voter suppression that we’ve seen around the country.
Republicans might also remember that partisan shifts can occur quickly. Hawaii was expected to be a Republican bastion when admitted to the Union. California and West Virginia both altered their partisan allegiances more recently.
All other federations that have emulated the U.S. in establishing federal enclaves give them representation. It’s time we up our democratic game and do the same.