OPINION: D.C. statehood = Disappropriation of power


Drew Angerer/Getty Images

D.C resident showing her support for D.C statehood by holding up a pro-statehood sign.

The idea of the nation’s capital being a state sounds like a great idea to some, but have you ever realized the many severe repercussions that would come from granting the District of Columbia statehood?

The issue has been brought to the political forefront and would impact the lives of not just D.C. residents, but every American citizen.

Washington D.C. becoming a state would prove to be detrimental to American society. D.C. statehood should never happen due to the inevitability of an unbalanced political system, deepening division within the country, and the sky-high cost it would impose upon the taxpayers.

D.C. statehood would destroy the balance of the political system as we know it, leading to a series of problems. The idea of giving two senators to a city that has voted over 70% Democratic since 1964 would be bad for the health of the American republic.

While the national environment has shifted from election to election, Washington D.C. has voted the same way since the 23rd Amendment was adopted in 1961, granting the District some votes in the Electoral College in measure to their population.

An example of just how partisan D.C. is, compared to the national environment, would be the 1984 election. Ronald Reagan came within 3,761 Minnesota votes from winning all 50 states, but won less than 14 percent of D.C. voters. In 2020, Donald Trump won 5.4 percent of the D.C. vote. (The Washington Post)

The electoral map for the 1984 presidential election. Ronald Reagan carried all but one state. (Photo | 270towin)

Currently, the senate is at a 50/50 split between Republicans and Democrats.  If D.C. were a state, the senate would undoubtedly be at a 52/48 majority for the Democrats. D.C would be the state that votes the furthest from the national environment in every election. The addition of D.C. as a state would lead to an inaccurate national representation of the American people. Most D.C residents work for the Federal government.

The majority of Americans in every state work for private entities. D.C. being the center of National Power is the primary reason for the founding fathers not making the capital a state. The Founders foresaw the risk that making the national capital a state would give too much power to the state of its location and its residents (National Review).

The unfair power balance nullifies the argument that D.C. statehood would lead to a more accurate representation of the American people. Many people who work in D.C live in the D.C suburbs in Maryland and Virginia, contributing to both of their electoral votes. It is hard to believe that Democrats would argue that D.C. statehood would lead to more fair representation at the federal level if D.C. voted reliably Republican.

Either way, giving two senators to a city that votes far from the national environment should not be given two senators to disrupt the balance of power.

Many recent events have shown just how divided our nation currently is. Granting D.C statehood would be throwing fuel into the fire. A 2019 Gallup poll showed a national majority opposed to D.C. statehood. With a national majority opposed to the idea, red states would not vote to ratify a constitutional amendment making D.C. a state. The last time D.C. statehood was tried, in 1978, the amendment fell 22 states short of the 38 required for ratification.

The nation is much more divided in 2020 than it was in 1978. Giving a party in Congress two new automatic seats would undoubtedly fuel anger in the opposition party. Given D.C.’s voting history, red states would be furious at the prospect of blue states receiving more representation. Republicans have contended in recent hearings that D.C. statehood is a power grab intended to ensure the election of two Democratic senators for life.

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (L) and Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) talk after a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing March 22, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The hearing addressed H.R.51, the “Washington, D.C. Admission Act”, an effort to make Washington D.C. the 51st state. (Photo | CAROLINE BREHMAN / GETTY IMAGES)

Democrats argue statehood would be good for the nation’s health since D.C. residents would feel equally represented. However, the division that would come from granting D.C. statehood would overshadow any new felt representation on D.C.’s part. Forcing through D.C. statehood against the wish of half the nation would cause exponential harm.

D.C. statehood would not be cheap; the massive costs would burden the taxpayers and stress the budgets of the capital. Democrats say the city is now financially self-sufficient, but the numbers do not add up. D.C. city officials seem to provide scant details on the cost and instead focus on the moral argument that “Congress should not deny 700,000 people representation.”  Estimates show that the city would need to spend anywhere from $755 million to $2 billion annually on state-government functions (The Washington Post).

These costs include many things currently paid for by the federal government that would fall onto state taxpayers. Much of the cost would fall on Virginia and Maryland taxpayers. Most of D.C’s higher-income workers live in D.C.’s suburbs located in Maryland and Virginia. Outside of D.C’s suburbs, the residents of these two states would likely resent the idea of covering the costs of D.C statehood. In 2009, D.C. officials admitted that non-D.C. residents living in Virginia and Maryland could be taxed to help fund D.C statehood.

Polling in the two Democratic-leaning states shows that their populations oppose the idea, shutting down the argument that Democratic voters would not mind paying more taxes to pay for D.C. statehood. Every federal taxpayer would likely contribute to paying the bill of D.C. statehood since it is the seat of the federal government.

The sky-high costs are unreasonable since D.C. statehood does not benefit D.C. residents in any way other than giving two senators. Many social programs in the city would erode due to the stop in federal funding. The economic consequences that would result from D.C. statehood would be catastrophic and would overshadow any “progress” made.

D.C. statehood is a disastrous idea and would cause more harm than good to the nation. Washington D.C. by our founding fathers to not be a state, and for good reasons. For over 200 years, D.C. has existed solely as the city seat of the federal government, and nothing has happened to change the mind of the average American citizen about it.

From creating an unbalanced political system to creating deep division in society to putting an expensive economic burden on citizens, D.C. statehood would prove to be detrimental for the nation.