Amend the Constitution

Of course residents of the District of Columbia deserve voting representation in Congress—but D.C. doesn’t have to become a state to make that happen. Amend the Constitution instead.


Plates of protest The Government of the District of Columbia introduced these license plates in 2000 to protest the District’s lack of congressional representation. The slogan “taxation without representation” was used by patriots during the American Revolution to protest the fact that they lacked representation in Parliament yet were required to pay taxes. This license plate was on Susan’s car; Dustin took a photo of it the day we moved to New York City.
Plates of protest: The Government of the District of Columbia introduced these license plates in 2000 to protest the District’s lack of congressional representation. The slogan “taxation without representation” was used by patriots during the American Revolution to protest the fact that they lacked representation in Parliament yet were required to pay taxes. This license plate was on Susan’s car; Dustin took a photo of it the day we moved to New York City.

I think it’s pretty clear that citizens of the United States, living in the United States, should have voting representation in Congress, because that’s what this country was based on—the right to vote for representatives; the right to a “republican form of government.” I’m aware that the Constitution only requires that states have a republican form of government, and D.C. is not a state. But, obviously, the Founders meant for Americans to have a say in their government, and I think any reasonable person would agree that Americans should have a say in their government.

The only argument against granting voting representation to D.C. is that it’s unconstitutional. Sure it is. Just like, in 1800, it would have been unconstitutional for Congress to outlaw slavery, or in 1915, it would have been unconstitutional for Congress to prohibit the manufacture and sale of alcohol, or in 1925, it would have been unconstitutional for Congress to allow the sale of alcohol. Whenever I hear someone—invariably a Republican who doesn’t want more Democrats in Congress, although I’m sure it would be the other way around if Republicans were the majority in D.C.—say, “But no, we can’t give D.C. voting rights, because that’s not in the Constitution!” my thought is, “Right! So amend the Constitution, dummy!”

I say, if something is the right thing to do, you do it, even if it means you have to go to some trouble, and even if it means you might not get what you want. If the cashier gives you too much change, you walk back into the store and return it, even if you’re in a hurry, and even if you wanted to use it to buy some ice cream. If a citizen of your own country doesn’t have voting representation in Congress, you give them voting representation in Congress, even if amending the Constitution is a pain, and even if it means your side might not have as much power. You just do it because it’s right.

However, I don’t necessarily think D.C. needs to be a state. I kind of like the special title of “district.” It’s just a reminder that it’s the capital of our country, and it’s special and set apart. Plus, what would we do with the national flag? And as long as we’re amending the Constitution, we can do it any way we want. So we wouldn’t have to make it a state.


This was part of the article “Of course D.C. deserves voting representation” on pages 18–20 of Issue 6 | April 2012.

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