WaPo reports that a group of bicyclists gathered in the nation’s capital yesteday to protest the fact that this tiny city with a corrupt government, incredibly high murder rate, and failing infrastructure is not a state:
About 75 bicyclists followed the wildly crooked course yesterday, traveling more than 60 miles and getting a comprehensive tour of each of the city’s quadrants. The ride wasn’t designed merely to give participants a chance to say they biked through all 50 states in one day. It was also intended as a political statement advocating statehood and voting rights for the District.
The bicyclists — symbolically if not actually — were searching in vain for a street named for the District. The ride, which was scheduled for Flag Day and organized by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, was intended to make the point that there should be one more star on the U.S. flag and one more street in the District named after a state.
“We have all the burdens of being a state, but none of the benefits of being one,” Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) said at a rally at the start of the ride at Freedom Plaza. “The most important benefit is the right of full representation.”
While one can sympathize with the strange voting status of District residents, the idea of making a tiny city a state, with the same two Senators as California, borders on absurd. In addition to DC’s rather famous lack of ability to govern itself (Exhibit A: Marion Barry), it is ridiculously small, with a population of 572,000 and a land mass smaller than several properties owned by Ted Turner.
If admitted, New Columbia would be the 2nd smallest state population-wise, larger only than Wyoming (494,423). The sub-million population states are historical accidents. The Dakotas (ND=634,448; SD=756,600) should be one state, not, two. Montana (904,433) and Wyoming should probably be one state as well, given the advantage of hindsight. Alaska (634,892) was literally purchased and is not connected to any other states, so there was little choice there. While the famous Great Compromise every schoolboy should have learned in grade school was necessary to get the Constitution ratified, the Framers could never have envisioned that you’d have one state with 494,423 residents and another (California) with 34,501,130, a ratio of 70 to 1. What’s done is done; the Dakotas aren’t going to voluntary give up two senators and a representative between them and nobody else can make them under Article IV, Section 3.
Obviously, DC residents should be allowed representation in Congress. It does not follow, however, that they should have two Senators and a Representative. It has long struck me that the obvious solution would be to return the residential portion of DC to the state of Maryland (Virginia reclaimed its half long ago) and to merely make the federal buildings a federal enclave for purposes of law enforcement jurisdiction, much the way we treat military bases.
Update (9:11, 6-16): Joy notes that I forgot about Vermont (613,090). You’d be surprised how often I do that.
Update (9:24, 6-16): Chris notes that the 25th Amendment also complicates things, which is correct. We’d have to repeal it, which the other states would gladly do and the District residents might be amenable to in order to get congressional representation.