As 2015 comes to an end we need to give thanks and praise to a few folks who have done right by the District and the statehood cause this year and to call out those who have tried to do us wrong. Without further adieu the 2015 Statehood Awards (aka the Hoodies) go to:
Hoodies for Good-
Hoodie for Best Goddamn Thing for Statehood This Year: John Oliver. If you haven’t seen this, you should, it’s fantastic and was funny and free advocacy for D.C. statehood that has reached millions of people!
Hoodie for Best Senate Rant: Senator McCaskill. A new cosponsor to the statehood bill this Congress, Senator McCaskill had enough of GOP hypocrisy when it comes to local judges for the District of Columbia.
Hoodie for Best Photo: Team Bonds. Hands down, Team Bonds, created the best photo to raise awareness about our statehood for our 2015 DC Flag Day event.
Hoodie for Best Organizing Idea: Kelli Shewmaker. In early 2015 at a planning meeting for our group Kelli brought up that we should have a DC Trivia Night to raise awareness about the cause, have fun, and recruit new people to the cause. Towards the end of 2015 we hosted two successful DC Trivia Nights at the Argonaut in Ward 6 and at Steel Plate in Ward 5 that both were huge successes. Thanks for the great idea, Kelli!
Hoodie for Best Organizing Model to Follow: Anne Anderson & Elinor Hart. Long time supporters of D.C. statehood and members of the DC League of Women Voters (LWV) Anne and Elinor have been working diligently to make statehood a cause that the local and national LWVs takes on with more vigor. By working locally and building toward a more national push this the the model we should be replicating across the District through unions, advocacy organizations, and faith based institutions that all have local chapters of national organizations. By effectively organizing locally we open up pathways to expanding our message nationwide.
Hoodie for the 4th Estate: Bridget Bowman. There is a wealth of talent among the press corps in the District but the fact that Ms. Bowman has covered District issues with such detail and vigor sets her apart. Roll Call is a publication that is widely read on the Hill and her coverage has helped keep our cause in front of members of Congress and their staff.
Hoodie for Best Speech: Justin Robinson. Just watch and see why:
Hoodie for Putting the F-U in FUN: Tim Krepp. Local historian, tour guide, former congressional candidate, and professional Tweeter (it seems) put his wit and organizing skills to good use in 2015 by leading two separate events on both the west lawn and east lawn of the U.S. Capitol. First, Mr. Krepp helped lead a group of District citizens to buck the Capitol’s ban on sledding on the Capitol’s west lawn Hill which later led to a lifting of the ban in the FY16 budget. Second, following John Oliver’s piece on D.C. statehood Mr. Krepp and others led a wonderful Sunday morning edition of Mr. Oliver’s song with children on the east lawn of the Capitol. Both were fun and well attended events that helped raise awareness about our unequal status, instill civic pride among attendees, and thumbed our noses at Congress at least for a day.
Hoodie for Elected Official: Franklin Garcia. Shadow Rep. Franklin Garcia picks up where his predecessor Nate Bennet-Fleming left off with a real and sustained push to get more cosponsors on the House statehood bill (HR 317). He has been a constant presence on the Hill bringing in new supporters to the cause and for that he deserves our thanks, praise, and a paycheck!
Hoodie for Civic Pride: Kojo Nnamdi, Tom Sherwood, & Mary Cheh. There are lots of folks with DC Flag tattoos but Kojo, Tom, and CM Cheh got their’s with such fanfare (and after so many years of talk) that it was a great to see them get inked up with the DC flag. It is also worth noting that this Hoodie should be shared with both the Kojo Nnamdi Show’s producer Michael Martinez, who for years tried to make this moment a reality, & to Nick, the 23 year old, who made the donation to make this awesomeness happen! Kudos & Hoodies to all!
Hoodie for Best College Op-Ed: Erin Sternleib. There are thousands of District citizens attending colleges and universities across the country and we hope they all follow the lead of Welsleyan student Erin Sternleib who educated her campus about our current status and call for equality. DC citizens penning similar columns at universities nationwide would be a huge boost for the cause. Read Erin’s Op-Ed: http://wesleyanargus.com/2015/09/28/dc-voting-rights/
Hoodie for Best Graphic: J. Nelson Leith.
Hoodie for Best Business: CreateDC. There were a lot of businesses in the running as we’ve had continued support from the Argonaut and Steel Plate but CreateDC continues to provide us great graphic design and print work with a family discount price (when/if they actually bill us & yes owned by the author’s brother).
Hoodie for Best State: Vermont. Surely, one day we’ll be the best state but until that time Vermont, yes, Vermont has earned that distinction. Because of its natural beauty? No, because it’s the only state whose entire congressional delegation are cosponsors of the D.C. statehood bill. Can you fricking believe that? Only one state’s entire congressional delegation supports statehood, looking at you Delaware, Connecticut, and Rhode Island!
Hoodie for Best Poll Numbers: The Washington Post released a poll that showed that 67% of District citizens want statehood which is an overwhelmingly majority and reaffirms that we the people believe statehood is our ultimate goal and democratic destiny…so let’s work our butts off to make it happen!
Hoodies for Bad (Boooooo to You!)-
Hoodie for Worst Pandering Grandstander: Marco Rubio. In early 2016, Senator Rubio, who had never offered such a bill in his previous years in the Senate, offered a bill to overturn portions of the District’s gun laws. Conveniently, introducing this bill boosted his rating on gun issues from the NRA. But none of this has anything to do with him running for president and needing to pander to the base of his party. Politicians don’t do things like that, right?
Hoodie for Worst Copycat Pandering Grandstander: Rand Paul. Senator Paul has a record of meddling in District affairs which is kinda hypocritical given his libertarian stances on many issues. In the fall, probably unrelated to his fast dropping presidential poll numbers, Senator Paul offered a bill to gut the District’s gun laws (yes, like Senator Rubio only later in the year). We look forward to his bill following the trajectory of his presidential campaign into obscurity.
Hoodie for Worst Colonial Overseer: Jason Chaffetz. Chairman Chaffetz threatened to have the mayor and Councilmembers arrested if they held a hearing on developing a tax and regulate system for our newly legalized marijuana. Despite over 70% of District voters voting to legalize it and despite that other (actual) states had done something similar the Chairman threatened to have our leaders arrested if they even held a hearing on regulating and taxing marijuana. Isn’t American democracy grand!
Hoodie for Worst Missed Opportunity: DC Council. While it’s abhorrent that Chairman Chaffetz threatened to arrest city leaders for simply trying to responsibly institute something overwhelmingly approved by voters it was equally disappointing that the Council backed down. Instead of holding a hearing and thus facing arrest the Council held a ‘roundtable’ on the issue in a hearing room. Not necessarily a profile in courage. The Council should have thumbed its nose at Chairman Chaffetz and held a hearing to see if he’d follow through or to see if the Justice Department would follow through (I don’t think either would have). In the best case scenario the Council would have been arrested simply for holding a hearing which could have been a powerful symbolic act demonstrating our colonial and anti-democratic status. Instead we had a roundtable and nothing changed which is the problem!
Hoodie for Presidential Lack of Leadership: The Honorable Barack H. Obama. Yes, the President deserves our scorn for failing to highlight our status and our cause, one in which he claims to support. While we do not suggest that this is something he should be the sole leader on he should say something, anything, to support our cause. He still has the bully pulpit and in one paragraph of once speech he could educate the nation about our plight and endorse our cause (hint, hint the State of the Union is coming up real soon). But to date he’s only utter “I’m in D.C., so I support it” when asked about D.C. statehood, that’s not leadership, that’s simply answering a question. Please lead on this issue Mr. President, you have one year left to do so.
Hoodie for Big-Ass Disappointments: Senate Democrats. Activists have logged many hours meeting with about twenty Democratic Senate offices in the hopes of adding them onto the statehood bill as cosponsors but to date they are more Democratic than democratic. If the Democratic Party were so inclined to support statehood for the people of D.C. you’d think the cause would have more support among its members in the U.S. Senate. There are only 19 Senate cosponsors to the D.C. statehood bill in the Senate (S. 1688) and there should be a lot more than that.
Hoodie for Even Bigger Big-Ass Disappointment: Congressional Republicans. First and foremost, congressional Republicans of late have the patent on meddling in District affairs at an alarming rate but the meddlers aren’t the majority of the Grand Old Party but the majority is the enablers which makes them equally as guilty. If the GOP believes in fairness and if they believe in the federal government staying out of local affairs then they need to start practicing what they preach and apply it to their treatment of the District of Columbia. We are not a Democratic city (yeah, I know we kinda are), we are not a liberal city (again, I know), we are an American city, an American district, filled with wonderful people who fulfill all obligations of citizenship yet are denied its most basic rights.
Hoodie for Worst Poll Numbers: While the Washington Post released an encouraging poll which showed that 67% of District citizens support D.C. statehood there also were 33% that weren’t on board. What. In. The. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. You. People?
And that’s a wrap for the 2015 Hoodie Awards! There are dozens of other great people and groups that deserve Hoodies for Good so sorry to those of you I missed. There are also dozens who deserve Hoodies for Bad so remember our memories are long but in the end our cause will prevail. The statehood cause is on the side of fairness and righteousness and we will prevail.
Now, let’s all go out and earn a Hoodie for Good in 2016!