Friday, April 20, 2007

Encompassing the Country

One of the more interesting but less reported stories this week is the battle on Capital Hill concerning the voting rights of DC. The 550,000 people who live in the District do not have a Representative in Congress (though they have to pay taxes). The bill would give them a Representative (though they would still not be a state and still not have any Senators).

Because DC proper is more Democratic than a minority donkey at the SAG Awards, Republicans aren't too keen on having more competition. Some opponents call it unconstitutional because only states get representation (which seems more like a reason to make DC a state than to deny them an active part in the process). Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia had a different idea: add another Representitive of your own.

Slapped onto the bill is an at-large Utah Representative, justified on the grounds that Mormon missionaries abroad supposedly made the state fell short of its deserved representation (it was only 857 people shy). Davis claims that this is how "it's done" when new Reps are added: the parties are balanced. This completely misses the point of including DC (though I'm sure many Democrats wouldn't be too keen on including the District if it was the Republican Mecca). The goal is not to achieve party balance, but balanced representation. Throwing in a bonus Representative does not help achieve that. Utah will get their due in three years (when the census is recounted). But DC's already been waiting for over two centuries.

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