American Elephants

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Representative of the District of Columbia. by The Elephant's Child

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton represents the District of Columbia, and though she can sit on committees and voice her opinion, she has no vote. Democrats are anxious to make the District a state, since it is reliably Democratic. They want to win. Nevermind rules, ethics or Constitution. They want permanent power and they want the rest of us to shut up. They don’t like dissent. Transforming members of Congress into lobbyists? Fine.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton left a voicemail for a lobbyist in which she brazenly begs for a “contribution.” It’s a not-so-subtle reminder of how legalized bribery is the standard operating procedure in Washington. Until money is taken out of politics, this kind of corruption will only get worse and worse. The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.

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I’m not defending Eleanor Holmes, and certainly not corruption, but setting politics and personalities aside, it has never made sense to me that citizens of Washington, DC are denied a voting representative in Congress.

Many capitals, both at the national level (Brasilia, Ankara, Canberra, Islamabad, … ) and the sub-national level were artificially created, in order to avoid giving extra power to existing states, provinces or cities. In all these other countries, the residents of these capital districts send voting representatives to their respective legislative bodies.

DC is, in any case, no longer just a small enclave of the federal government. It has a bigger population than two U.S. States (Vermont and Wyoming), and more than Alaska had in 2000. Some residents commute to jobs outside the district, many work for educational institutions (American University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University) or private companies (e.g., those involved with publishing) that have no direct connection with the government. Moreover, many who do work for the government commute from neighboring states, where they have full representation in Congress.

Unfortunately, Congress continues to reject efforts to introduce a constitutional amendment that would normalize DC’s situation. I can understand the reluctance to upset the apple cart by giving DC two senators, but its citizens should at least have a voting representative in the House, which holds the purse strings.

Taxation without representation, indeed.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

Forgot to say, though: good video. Reminds me of a book that was published privately in 2000 after many years of personal dedication by Brian J. Finegan, a guy who knew the federal government inside and out: The Federal Subsidy Beast : The Rise of a Supreme Power in a Once Great Democracy.

One of his lines was something like: there are no longer two distinct parties in Congress, there is only one: the Subsidy Party.

Unfortunately, Finegan died only a couple of years after the book came out.


Comment by Subsidy Eye

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