Thanks to the Constitution, the District of Columbia has an anomolous status. It is, for some purposes of federal jurisdiction, a "state," and, of course, thanks to the 23rd Amendment, DC gets three electoral votes. However, as any resident of DC emphasizes, it continues to be treated as a ward of the national government, the equivalent of a colony without voting representation in the House or Senate or, more to the point, any of the autonomy that is presumably attached to being a state in our particular federal system. "Taxation without Representation" is the slogan on DC license plates, to capture this situation. The City Council of DC has voted to spend the tax money of its own citizens to help pay for abortions of presumably poor and vulnerable women. Whatever one's views on abortion, there's no doubt at all that what John Marshall once called a "sovereign state" could choose to spend its own tax dollars on such a public policy (unless, of course, the Court holds that fetuses are "persons" protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, which not even Scalia has advocated). Only a colony, without any rights that the administering power need respect, could be prevented from passing such a program. And that is exactly what Barack Obama and congressional negotiators decided to make clear. Forget the craven Congress; Barack Obama betrayed not only his contituents in DC, but also his ostensible and ostentatious devotion to "democracy" around the world by acquiscing to the denial of self-government to the District of Columbia. He should be completely ashamed of himself, as should any Democrat (or, more to the point, "democrat") who votes for the "compromise." Perhaps they should vote for it anyway; after all, there would have been no Constitution in 1787 without a willingness to collaborate with slaveowners and submit to the extortionate demands of small states re allocation of power in the Senate, and maybe (but only maybe) the Constitution was worth such compromises. I obviously find this an open question. But we should have no illusions about the character of the President's disregard for self-government by Washingtonians. From his perspective (albeit, no doubt, with genuine regret, like the Walrus and the Carpenter vis-a-vis their oysters), they are mere colonists, to be ruthlessly dismissed when other political interests demand it. Change we can believe in, indeed!
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