Barring some unlikely showdown on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC, this week, it looks like the Democratic Platform for the third time since 2000 will make no mention of supporting statehood for the District of Columbia.
Instead, Democrats are likely to endorse a blander option short of statehood, similar to the party’s position in 2008, which called for self-government and representation in Congress.
A Washington Post editorial this weekend criticized the Democrats for practically ignoring the party at the Convention, citing the District’s loyalty to the party. DC statehood advocate Mark Plotkin made a similar argument in the Post last month. After all, President Obama won 93% of the vote here in the 2008 election, and no Republican presidential candidate has ever won the District’s three electoral votes since the city began voting in general elections in 1964.
So why the cold shoulder from the Democrats?
This city’s overwhelming loyalty to the party probably is partly to blame. After all, the District’s predictable voting patterns allows the Democrats to take the city and its three electoral votes for granted. In a close election year when the Democrats cannot afford to bleed more voters than they already have since 2008, setting the country up for a partison fight that, if won, would ultimately net the Democrats more votes in Congress is probably not a fight the party wants to wage right now.
Statehood advocates have nowhere else to turn, because, as noted previously, the Republican Party writes the District off entirely, unless they’re angling to use DC as a guinea pig in their social experiments.
With statehood seemingly off the table again for the foreseeable future, Joseph N. Grano, a member of the DC Republican Committee last month raised an oft-cited compromise in a letter to the Washington Post: exempting District residents from federal income taxes, the same as residents in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the US Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
As Grano points out, there already is legislation before the House that, if enacted, would do just that. And, with the tax debate at the top of both parties’ agendas, it seems like something that could gain traction.
But with the Democrats unwilling to go to bat for the District at the national level anymore, District residents probably should not expect that this legislation will fare any better than the pro-DC legislation that has died in Congress over the last several years.