Residents of the nations capital are still jubilantly Yes We Can-ing a week and a half after President-elect Barack Obama clinched 364 electoral votes to become Americas next head honcho, leaving Washingtonians with the fervent hope that he might finally win the District of Columbia its long-neglected representation in congress.
The capital city, known by the rest of the country for its phallic monuments and politico trysts, has lacked representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate since 1801, when it was first ceded land by Maryland and Virginia and became the thriving city so prolifically depicted by School House Rock today.
Considered by much of the world to be a definitive symbol of power and authority, the United States capital is, in truth, veritably impotent in terms of influence.
Whereas each of the 50 states is allotted two senators and a population-proportionate number of representatives California has 53 the Constitution only permits the nations capital a meager non-voting delegate in Congress, a figurehead given the relative clout of a hall monitor.
Numerous proposals drafted in the past 50 years have petitioned for everything from D.C. statehood to retrocession into the Maryland voting system, all resolutely trounced by Republican opponents; adversaries of D.C. representation are well aware that the city votes predominantly Democrat. In this last presidential election, 93 percent of Washington, D.C. residents voted for Obama.
The District of Columbias participation in this explosive election is a relatively new privilege; up until the ratification of the 23rd Amendment in 1961, D.C. residents were unable to vote in presidential elections at all.
These restrictions were the vestigial effects of the now archaic constitutional article bestowing upon the Congress total control over the capitals legislation. It is this article that currently holds a vice-like grip on the District of Columbias lack of representation, and is the spearhead touted by opponents of the D.C. vote movement.
The initiative for D.C. statehood continues to look bleak, as vocal adversaries are wary of extra Democratic pull in Congress and having to buy yet another new flag just for one extra star. But with Obamas recent victory, the pull for representation is the strongest its been in a decade. Because the Democratic Party has taken control of both the Senate and the House, many Washingtonians are certain they will have no trouble getting the needed majority to pass a D.C. voting bill.
Supporters shouldnt rejoice just yet, however. If former Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry imparted any wisdom on the Democratic Party, members now know not to expect victory even following a catastrophic Bush administration.
The movements last major supporter, former President Bill Clinton, Americas favorite intern-shtupper, was enthusiastic but ineffectual at garnering the needed support to pass legislation aimed at obtaining a D.C. congressman. During President Bushs tenure in office, a bill that would have granted a congressional seat to both D.C. and red-state Utah was derailed by a Republican filibuster.
Previous attempts in the past few decades have also failed miserably. In 1980, Congress refused to ratify a proposed District of Columbia Constitution that would give D.C. statehood under the title New Columbia, a name that seems more suited for a mediocre British techno band than a legitimate governing body. Endeavors to allow D.C. residents to vote as Maryland citizens met similarly gruesome ends.
But with a new president and a new cabinet, the future is bright for the nations capital, a city built ostensibly on the values of equality for every American.
It might be a small metropolis, with a population more substantive only than Wyoming, and it might be weary of being unfavorably compared to New York. But Washington, D.C. is a city ready for change and independence. And a better ballclub.