March 6, 2009


NRA Notches Victory After House Postpones District Voting Rights Bill (Alan K. Ota, 3/06/09, CQ)

The National Rifle Association’s push to roll back the District of Columbia’s semi-automatic weapons ban has halted momentum for giving a full House voting member to Washington, less than a week after backers celebrated what they called a “historic” Senate vote.

“We might be checkmated,” said a senior House Democratic aide, referring to efforts to adopt a rule on the floor that would restrict amendments to the voting rights bill (HR 157). “We might not be able to pass the rule. We can’t pass the bill without the rule.”

Given the concerns of the Founders in not granting representation to residents of the District:
2. "To exercise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular States and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States; and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislatures of the States in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings."

The indispensable necessity of complete authority at the seat of government, carries its own evidence with it. It is a power exercised by every legislature of the Union, I might say of the world, by virtue of its general supremacy. Without it, not only the public authority might be insulted and its proceedings interrupted with impunity; but a dependence of the members of the general government on the State comprehending the seat of the government, for protection in the exercise of their duty, might bring on the national councils an imputation of awe or influence, equally dishonorable to the government and dissatisfactory to the other members of the Confederacy. This consideration has the more weight, as the gradual accumulation of public improvements at the stationary residence of the government would be both too great a public pledge to be left in the hands of a single State, and would create so many obstacles to a removal of the government, as still further to abridge its necessary independence. The extent of this federal district is sufficiently circumscribed to satisfy every jealousy of an opposite nature. And as it is to be appropriated to this use with the consent of the State ceding it; as the State will no doubt provide in the compact for the rights and the consent of the citizens inhabiting it; as the inhabitants will find sufficient inducements of interest to become willing parties to the cession; as they will have had their voice in the election of the government which is to exercise authority over them; as a municipal legislature for local purposes, derived from their own suffrages, will of course be allowed them; and as the authority of the legislature of the State, and of the inhabitants of the ceded part of it, to concur in the cession, will be derived from the whole people of the State in their adoption of the Constitution, every imaginable objection seems to be obviated.

there seem a couple obvious alternatives if those in DC would prefer to have representation in Congress to being the seat of same.

For one thing, we ought to move the country's capitol to someplace that isn't populated. The wilds of Utah or ANWAR would do, but we could also move the last remaining folks out of Detroit or New Orleans and not allow any residential property within the new District. Government employees (other than the President and VP) would have to live outside the District and commute to work, preferably by monorail, like Disney. Indeed, Disneyworld provides an ideal model for the new Capitol. Of course, we could also just do this with the current District and let the residents be subsumed into MD or VA or both.

Secondly, when we consider that the fear here was undue influence by a discrete cohort, it has become clear over the intervening centuries that the dependency problem is much greater with regard to the enormous federal bureaucracy, which depends on the central government for employment. Because their votes are therefore not independent, it is they who should be deprived of the franchise, more so than mere residents of DC. Nor, in the era of Social Security, Welfare, College aid, and Unemployment Insurance is it just actual employees of the Federal Government who are dependents thereof. Anyone whose primary source of income is the feds is, by definition, not an independent and not capable of exercising their vote in the free manner that successful republican governance requires.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at March 6, 2009 11:01 AM
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