by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Even if the D.C. statehood effort had a reasonable chance of passage, however, such an amendment would undermine stable federal governance in a number of ways. First it would put the seat of the national government under the controlling authority of a potentially hostile government. In Federalist No. 43, James Madison warned that without federal control of the capital, “the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity.”
Only once has a Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon in 1972, broken the 20 percent threshold in D.C. Not a single city council member is a Republican. The seat of national power was intentionally created as an independent entity to avoid having Congress and the president rely on, or answer to, the governor of a state.
Washington is also the city of the permanent political class — a place of tremendous wealth that is largely reliant on American taxpayers. D.C. has a higher median income than any state, and its recession-proof suburbs are some of the wealthiest in the country. In many ways, large swaths of Maryland and Virginia already act as the voice of the federal government. That is exactly what the Founders were trying to avoid when they created a federal district. …
… Washington, as it now stands, has already accumulated far more political power than any city in the nation. Transforming the seat of this authority into a state would create voters who are almost wholly incentivized to grow the power and size of the federal government at the expense of other states.
Of course, if Democrats were truly concerned about the lack of representation among Washingtonians, they might be working on ideas that would allow D.C. residents to become Marylanders or Virginians. Instead, they are intent on creating — or, at the very least, normalizing the idea of — a liberal enclave that would give them two permanent senators.