Making Our Money Talk for Statehood

Often times when DC Statehood activists discuss one of the main reasons for DC Statehood the common line is to end “Taxation Without Representation.” Undoubtedly, the fact that District citizens contribute more tax revenue to federal coffers than 18 states and totaling $20 billion a year without any national representation should be a good enough argument for Statehood, but it isn’t. While taxes are something we must pay political donations are something we choose to do to promote a candidate or to promote a cause. District citizens (yes, many of us are lobbyists or have ties to various special interests) give millions of dollars each year to political candidates from around the nation yet are no closer to having representatives in Congress of our own. People donate to politicians to promote specific interests but for some reason District citizens have yet to mobilize behind our own special interest, Statehood, and it’s about time we did.

District citizens, from a basic democratic self-interested point of view, have made poor investments our political contributions and should begin to become more thoughtful, strategic, and self-interested in how we contribute to national candidates. In this election cycle District citizens have contributed to the House members who represent the suburbs of the District (the Md. & Va. Reps): Steny Hoyer, Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards, Jim Moran, and Gerry Connolly. Presently, none of these members of the House of Representatives are cosponsors to HR 265, the New Columbia Admission Act. Congressmen Hoyer, Connolly, Moran, and Van Hollen have all recently spoken out against a commuter tax, a key potential revenue tool New Columbia would have to pay for state functions given a large commuter influx to the state on a daily basis. Despite all of their words in support of voting rights, they all have failed to support DC Statehood which is the ultimate goal and end game for full and equal democracy in the District (New Columbia).

Despite failing to support our ultimate democratic goals, District citizens, as of the June 30, 2012 reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), donated $366,189 to these 5 members of the House. This means District citizens on average have donated a total of $73,238 per DC suburban House Member. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip in the House, long-time Congressman, and a “NO” vote on the Statehood Bill back in 1993 has received $134,595 from District citizens in individual contributions alone (not PAC money) just this election cycle. We need to really reconsider who we donate to and why we donate to them. The rest of the country understands how to donate in their self-interest and our self-interest should be Statehood yet we’re giving away lots of money to so-called friends who do not support full and complete democracy for the citizens of the District.

In stark contrast, District citizens have donated a total of $475,516 to the 25 House members running for re-election out of the 28 cosponsors to HR 265. That means on average District citizens are averaging $19,021 per DC Statehood Bill cosponsor (about 26% of what we give per DC suburban House member). These numbers get even more outrageous if you remove Congressman Conyers and Rangel from the list as they are long-time House members and former Committee Chairman which make them more likely to get big donations (albeit these men deserve our contributions based on their long-time support for DC Statehood). By removing Conyers and Rangel from the DC political contribution equation DC residents give less to the 23 remaining cosponsors of the bill than they do to the 5 members of the DC suburbs who do not even support Statehood and the average contribution drops to $14,937 per candidate (Click Here: dc2012contributions to see the breakdown of candidtates and individual contributions from the FEC reports filed by candidates).

The numbers do not lie, District citizens need to become more thoughtful, proactive, and strategic with how they donate and who they donate to. Sadly, money talks and District citizens have done a poor job of making our money talk for our most special interest: to become full and equal citizens as the 51st state of the Union, New Columbia. While Mark Plotkin is right, there should be a fight about Statehood on the Democratic National Convention floor, District citizens need to start talking with our mouths, our bodies, and our wallets to demonstrate that Statehood is an important issue to 618,000 of us and it should be to our 300 million neighbors and their elected representatives.

It’s time to speak, act, and donate, in a more thoughtful and democratically self-interested manner.

Join us by emailing: unitedforstatehood@gmail.com

Josh Burch

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