December 17, 2015 at 4:49 pm EST | by John Klenert
D.C. residents still lack voice in Congress
D.C. Center Fall Reception, gay news, Washington Blade, D.C. Electoral votes

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

For the sake of discussion, this essay assumes that regardless of who wins the 2016 presidential election, the District of Columbia will cast its three electoral votes for the Democratic nominee as it has blindly done since the 23rd Amendment gave us the right to participate in the process. How so very kind of our fellow citizens bestowing on us what they take for granted.

Today, the District of Columbia has more residents than the two very different states of Wyoming and Vermont and if more people continue to move and live here in the next 10 years, chances are the District may also exceed the populations of Alaska and South Dakota. Yet our national capital city continues to be denied any real voice in either house of our federal legislature.

Our local representatives on the City Council and our mayor do not even have a say in the appointment and/or retention of our judges. Is no presidential candidate for the White House chagrined at our being the only national capital city on this planet with such a distinction? Can you imagine the outcry if those who live in state capital cities had their representation in legislatures taken away? Unfortunately, even the current White House resident should receive only a barely passing grade when it comes to standing up for democracy here in Washington, D.C. Eating out at our restaurants is certainly appreciated and shopping at our local bookstores is a nice gesture. There is still a year left to speak up for us, Mr. President. Please speak about it.

Just what are the current thoughts of those candidates now running for the Oval Office? No national or local, straight or gay reporter from various news agencies or mass and social media has asked their proposals on correcting this 200+ years of immoral outrage. How many District residents are tired of such meaningless mentions of support that border frankly on insulting.

All have heard the usual “Return to Maryland” or “Statehood for D.C.” or “Get over it!”  or “Ask Arlington and Alexandria to Rejoin” or “No Room on the Flag.” How about this one, “You do not look like a state,” which is often paired with “The District of Columbia is simply too small in land area” to be considered for statehood.” Why is everything reduced to “size matters?”

Acknowledging that a constitutional or an organizational or social problem exists usually calls for what is our endemic way to solve challenges — committees or commissions are formed whose membership includes those from all interested and affected parties. What will it take to even have this occur? One suggestion that would certainly gain national and international attention: Return all or one or two of our electoral votes for someone other than the winner of the popular vote. After all, desperate times demand desperate measures. Let’s hear some real, concrete ideas with deadlines from candidates instead of the pablum written by far too many supporters, both gay and straight, who seem to await the next presidency with the fervor of the Rapture or the Second Coming.

And while I’m at it, why does this country still have “territories?” The age of Imperialism is long over. After all, it is the 21st century.


John Klenert is a longtime D.C. resident, a former member of the D.C. Vote board of directors and has been arrested for supporting voting rights.

1 Comment
  • Withholding an electoral vote has been done before without attracting much attention. 1 – 2000 election: Washington, D.C. Elector Barbara Lett-Simmons, pledged for Democrats Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, cast no electoral votes as a protest of Washington D.C.’s lack of congressional representation- But then this election got attention for so much more.

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