A Democrat Power Grab? Well, Kinda

This week’s entry is not about the stimulus package, and the federal government’s efforts to become more entangled in various parts of America’s industries. I’m actually writing about another area where the landscape seems to be shifting.

The Democrats are already in a position of power given their dominance in both Houses of Congress and their control of the White House, and there is a movement at hand (or I could have written “there is a movement afoot.” At hand or afoot—either expression works. Does that seem interesting to anyone besides me?) Where was I? Oh yes, there’s a movement at hand that would strengthen the Dem’s in Congress even more. There has been a push to give Washington DC a voting member in the House of Representatives. The District has a quasi member in the House already who can do various things. Unfortunately (from DC’s point of view), voting is not one of those things. During the last several presidential elections, DC has voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Democratic candidates, ergo it stands to reason that the Democrats would pick up a vote in the House if DC obtained a full-fledged representative. To make this push palatable to Republicans, Democrats have offered to let Utah (in other words: Republican country) have an extra representative as well. There are only two problems with this scenario if you’re a Republican: One, it’ll put the pressure on to give DC representation in the Senate, and where is the Senate going to get two extra Republican seats to maintain this pretense of fairness. Two, let’s see…what was that other issue? Oh right, the whole thing is unconstitutional.

If the Democrats give DC a seat in the House then what excuse will there be to deny the District representation in the Senate? Thus, it could be virtually assured that the Democrats would over time gain two more seats in the Senate, increasing their majority there. Which makes this is a bad move for Republicans. Of course, if it’s the right thing to do then who cares if Republicans are upset?

This brings us to our second problem—the constitutionality thing. According to the Constitution, the states are represented in Congress. Our capital is contained not in a state but in a district. If one wants to say that these people are getting the shaft, it could be argued that Congress has showered all kinds of attention (and money) on the District even without its voting representation, but that isn’t  the point. If the people in that city truly merit their own special, federal representation then our leaders need to amend the Constitution. It has become trendy recently to say we shouldn’t be tinkering with such an important document, but that leads me to make two final points. One, the Constitution has been amended 27 times—it is supposed to be tinkered with following a complicated and important process. Two, if your alternative to tinkering is to simply ignore the document when it seems too burdensome then heaven help us all because none of our rights will be safe.