Blog written by Cory Sealey
Wowza! Elections are in full swing. Will it be Obillary or McRomnabee? The excitement and hubbub of red states, blue states, and swing states tends to bring out the most patriotic in people, and as a native Washingtonian, the political process flows through my veins. I like nothing more than sitting down with some beers and watching the returns come in. This is not going to be an article about spin in the current election. That would be too easy, this entry is about politics, but specifically how Congress has honed and mastered their spin process for more than 250 years to deny citizens of Washington, DC their rights. What you say? DC residents denied rights? Correct.
Like certain elected officials, many people fail to realize people actually live in DC. I was born and raised there. Not everyone flows in and out with the political tide every four to eight years. Along with great museums and amazing cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin, we also have zero official representatives in Congress. Citizens of the District of Columbia have only non-voting representation in the United States House of Representatives and no representation in the United States Senate. We are not even seen as competent enough to vote on our own budgets. Even fewer people are aware that residents of DC were only “granted” the right to elect the U.S. president in 1964. Thanks Congress!!! I guess that kind of makes up for all those years you controlled our city’s coffers according to your whims. This lack of control is spun by members of Congress as a way of making sure DC doesn’t get too powerful and end up tap dancing over all the other states. This spin also means we have people assuming my hometown is a gaggle of power-hungry wonks who will use every opportunity to trounce on our neighbors. This spin is disenfranchising, wrong, and plain stupid.
To the man on the street, taking away his voice in the Senate or the House would be grounds for a smack-down, but yet, year after year, elected officials, people elected into office on promises of “shooting straight” continue to spin DC voting rights as a horrible idea which might make the world implode upon itself and make our founding fathers (and mothers) spin in their graves. Piggybacking on the idea DC residents would have no idea how to handle national representation, as I mentioned before, Congress controls the money DC residents see for public projects. From our woefully underfunded public schools to our hyper high HIV/AIDS rate, DC has serious problems because it is repeatedly denied its own voice and identity because of some national level spinning. We were seen as a population of neophytes, unable to govern ourselves. Unfortunately this stigma still remains. When DC Home Rule legislation or funding bills are brought up, someone grandstands about “taking the power out of the hands of the elite in DC and giving it back to the people”, I wish this person would come see the schools that the children of these “elites” go to, some have partial roofs, most have no books, many have lead paint.
Although there has been recent talk to do away with these arcane laws, nothing really came of it. We continue to be the land of “Taxation without Representation”. Spin in any form, is something we deal with everyday, from Britney “She’s crazy, no she’s just tired” to the current election, “Clinton makes racist comment, never mind it was taken out of context”. This spin gets most of our attention, but unfortunately, spin has been around the block, and wants to make sure it stays. When this spin is perpetrated by our elected officials to deny an entire population basic rights…that is when spin disenfranchises.