Saturday, September 26, 2009

Me, Clueless (DC Statehood Edition)

Can someone explain to me why the Democrats aren't pushing for DC Statehood?

I've argued before that it's an obvious play for both substantive and (especially) pure partisan reasons, but not only are elected Democrats ignoring it, but liberal activists don't seem interested, either. Why not? Indeed, the last time that Democrats controlled the House, Senate, and White House, DC Statehood made it to the floor of the House (although it lost badly, with 100 Democrats defecting and only one Republican supporter; President Clinton supported statehood, although I don't think he did anything beyond announcing his support). Democrats used to support statehood in their platform, but it seems to have disappeared; I found it in the 2000 platform, but not the two most recent ones.

Hey, I can understand some reluctance in the early 1990s; Marion Barry had only recently been Mayor, and it was easy for opponents to make the case that the District was horribly governed. Of course, they would still make that case now, but it seems to me it's a far harder argument these days.

Really, I don't get it. Even if some Democrats in marginal seats might be reluctant to support statehood, liberals (and their activists allies) should be demanding it. Even the weak House-vote-only bill has been allowed to die (over a gun amendment); where's the liberal outrage over that one?

Really, if Tom DeLay was in this situation, does anyone have any doubt at all that he'd immediately ram through a measure that gave him two extra votes in the Senate? I tend to defend Democrats against accusations that they don't play the game hard enough, but in this case I think it's dead on correct.

But perhaps I'm missing something. Can anyone explain it to me?

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