D.C. citizens: "No taxation without representation."

The American Constitution is by no means a perfect document. The result was revolutionary for its time, as to that point such a government had only been theorized and debated, but within this framework were inconsistencies and hypocrisy that ran counter to the ideals of America's founding.

Over the course of our history we've addressed some of the shortcoming of our nation. Before the Constitution was even ratified our founders addressed immediate concerns about the document with ten amendments consisting of the Bill of Rights. Since then we've addressed other deficiencies in our construction, such as inequality and flaws in our election processes. But inadequacies still exist, with none being more prevalent today than the lack of representation for the District of Columbia.

This issue was addressed in 1961 with the ratification of the 23rd amendment, which gave D.C. three electoral votes in the Electoral College. Because Article II of the Constitution only provided electors for states such an amendment was required, yet it didn't broach the fact that D.C. lacks representation in Congress. The district is resigned to one congressional representative who has no vote and no Senate counterpart.

Since Article I provides Congress with the power to "exercise exclusive legislation in all cases" concerning the district this blunder was particularly heinous. In 1973 the problem was partially addressed when Congress scaled back its role by reserving certain powers to a mayor and advisory council, all elected by the district. This gesture was insufficient as Congress retained veto power over local decisions and thus guaranteed that D.C. will continue to be held hostage by national politics.

Beyond the lack of autonomy in local affairs, this situation stinks because residents of the district have no say in how their federal tax dollars are spent, which exemplifies the ultimate slap in the face to the principle of "no taxation without representation." The fact that the district pays federal taxes distinguishes it from American territories.

With the advent of the Obama presidency and strong Democratic majorities in Congress it seems like D.C.'s standing as the "last colony" will finally be rectified. A bill providing voting rights has already made its way through committees in the Senate, where it received support from two Republicans, probably making it immune to the filibusters invoked in previous attempts. There is the possibility of generating bipartisan support, as the bill also creates an additional district in Utah that would offset the Democratic gain represented by D.C.'s inclusion, although some Republicans have pointed out that Utah is poised to pick up a seat in 2010 anyway.

Regardless of the compromise, the District of Columbia needs representation, as it is appalling that a population greater than Wyoming should be denied a vote in the House, let alone representation in the Senate.

The main sticking point now is that to grant voting rights to the D.C. representative through law would be struck down as unconstitutional if challenged in court, as the Constitution only provides representation to the states. Therefore, a Constitutional amendment is necessary to ensure the people of our nation's capital receive the basic rights guaranteed (don't add "to") every other citizen, which means a real voice in both houses of Congress and returning control of local affairs to the local officials.

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