• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

DC Statehood Makes No Sense

In a post Robert Prather dubs “A good primer on why I oppose DC statehood,” Matt Yglesias expresses his surprise that Democrats, who would demonstrably benefit from adding two more of their own to the Senate and another to the House, aren’t more wildly enthusiastic.

But the striking thing is not how strong Republican opposition to this idea is, it’s how tepid Democratic support for it is. You don’t hear Democratic leaders articulating this as a goal. And when the House of Representatives put it to a vote in 1993 it lost 277 to 153.

Perhaps this is because, in addition to being members of the Democratic Party, they’re in town to represent the interests of, say, North Dakota or the Alabama 2nd?  It’s hardly in the interest of their constitutents to dilute their vote.

Beyond that, let me reiterate a point I made the last time this meme was circulating:

In no meaningful way is DC a state-like entity.  It’s a city.  And not even a huge city!   Ranked by population, it’s the 27th largest city in the United States.  It’s smaller than Denver, Nashville, Seattle, Boston, Milwaukee, El Paso, Baltimore, Charlotte, Memphis, Fort Worth, Austin, Columbus OH, San Francisco, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Detroit, San Jose, Dallas, San Diego, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

Indeed, it’s half the size of its chief NFL rival, Dallas.  It’s roughly a third the size of Phoenix and a quarter the size of Houston.  Chicago has five times the population.   New York?  Fifteen times bigger. And that’s just counting the actual residents, not the metropolitan areas, which would skew the disparities much further.  But DC’s metro areas are firmly ensconced in Virginia and Maryland, so they’re not part of the discussion.

There’s no reason whatever to make DC a state except that its residents lack direct representation in Congress.  And there are plenty of ways to remedy that injustice that I discussed previously.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Moonage says:

    Having been a former resident of DC, I’m more inclined to believe at this point in time there is no reason for DC to exist at all, much less become the smallest state in the United States by a longshot. Just undo the error made 200 years ago and give the land back to the states that it was taken from.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. PD Shaw says:

    I’m not convinced by Matt’s assertion that the Constitutional requirement of a District could be satisfied by a rump of a few buildings and the mall. The purpose of the District was to give the federal government the exclusive jurisdiction over its own security. If anything the security demands and the increased size of the federal government require a larger District than twenty years ago.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Michael says:

    I just finished reading some the Federalist papers where, I think it was James Madison, made the cause for not giving DC residents a vote in the federal government.

    Every time I hear someone say that the current situation goes against what the founders believed I chuckle, then I cringe because I know other people believe them. Why is Romeo and Juliet required reading, but the Federalist Papers are not?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Of course it makes sense. It would be a way of boosting the number of surefire Democratic seats in the Congress, important especially when you recognize that the decennial census is almost certain to reduce the number of seats in Blue States. What makes more sense than increasing your majority via machinations rather than the electoral process? It’s like the late Mayor Daley’s comment that one map drawer was worth 1,000 precinct workers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. PD Shaw says:

    Every time I hear someone say that the current situation goes against what the founders believed I chuckle

    I assume the founders originally believed that the swamps of Washington D.C. were largely uninhabitable and that given the modest expectations of federal government, most everyone would go to their real homes for elections.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. Raoul says:

    But Congressional representation is the sine qua non of statehood; and as to it being a city- Singapore is also only a city.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Floyd says:

    Tear down all residential areas,…
    enlarge the airport, build museums, put in new highways,
    “take paradise, put up a parking lot”,
    build a big forest preserve, maybe even an
    intergalactic bypass!
    Then put Blagojevich back in office, and all the DC residents can move to the “Peoples Republic of Illinois”, where they will find that so-called representation ain’t all it’s cracked up to be![lol]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. Michael says:

    I assume the founders originally believed that the swamps of Washington D.C. were largely uninhabitable and that given the modest expectations of federal government, most everyone would go to their real homes for elections.

    You would assume wrong, the founders knew that people would want to live close to the seat of government. Seriously, go read the Federalist Papers, I’m disappointed it took me so long to do so.

    But Congressional representation is the sine qua non of statehood; and as to it being a city- Singapore is also only a city.

    The point is that the federal government was established by a union of the states, not of cities.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0