Make DC a State Already

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Perhaps one of the biggest policy no-brainers on its merits that apparently remains politically unfeasible is statehood for the District of Columbia, which has a population larger than Wyoming and Vermont but still has no voting representation in Congress. It is simply absurd that 700,000 Americans—not to mention three million Americans in Puerto Rico—lack voting rights while being citizens of the United States.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, called for statehood for the District in a petition sent Friday to supporters saying she “will keep fighting to make sure it becomes law.” As Ryan Cooper noted at The Week last year, making DC, along with Puerto Rico, states “would both address the greatest structural violation of democratic liberties in American society and provide the largest tangible partisan benefit to Democrats.” Adding two new senators from DC and another two from Puerto Rico would make passing real progressive reforms like Medicare for All or automatic voter registration much more realistic.

In 2016, DC voters overwhelmingly approved a measure to petition the U.S. government on statehood with the name State of New Columbia. Congress has repeatedly interfered with DC’s right to self-govern, preventing it from legalizing cannabis and from allowing DC women to use Medicaid to obtain abortion services. There is no good argument against DC being a state; the founding fathers clearly did not envision Washington being a thriving city of 700,000 people, only 21 percent of whom are federal workers, nor would it make their continuing disenfranchisement acceptable if they had.

The only reason DC statehood isn’t already done and that it’s considered impossible to get done is because Republicans don’t want it, because it would harm them politically—DC is about as blue as it gets. But despite their opposition to it being entirely self-interested, it’s still not talked about much on a national level. DC statehood would help Democrats and their priorities, but that doesn’t change how super fucking obvious it is that it’s the only reasonable thing to do. Yet Republicans aren’t even asked about DC statehood, because it’s just accepted that it can’t be done. That will only change with more prominent Democrats, especially those running for president, doing things like this.

Splinter politics writer.